KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump Impeachment Hearing Could Bring Attention To Administration's Efforts To Freeze, Threaten To Rescind Foreign Assistance, U.S. Advocates Say

Devex: Could Trump’s impeachment also put an end to his aid ‘rescission’ threats?
“For U.S. aid advocates, the impeachment trial currently underway in the U.S. Senate carries echoes of a battle that has played out for two summers in a row. Both of these instances saw the Trump administration freeze — and threaten to rescind — foreign assistance funds appropriated to the U.S. Agency for International Development. … Given the exponentially greater attention the issue of budgetary authority has received within the context of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, some aid experts believe it could have significant implications for the question of whether these perennial battles between the aid community and the White House will continue…” (Igoe, 1/24).

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U.S. Health Officials To Brief Senate On Coronavirus Outbreak; U.K. To Hold Emergency Meeting; Taiwan President Calls On WHO To Grant Full Access To Virus Updates

The Hill: Administration to give Senate briefing on coronavirus
“Senators are set to hear from top federal health officials Friday regarding the outbreak of the new coronavirus originating in China. The administration’s briefing will be jointly hosted by the Senate Health and Foreign Relations committees, the panels said in a joint statement on Thursday…” (Weixel, 1/23).

Reuters: Britain convenes emergency response meeting on new coronavirus
“Britain will convene an emergency response meeting on Friday to discuss measures to contain a virus that has killed 26 people and infected more than 800 in China, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said…” (James et al., 1/24).

Reuters: Parties unite over Taiwan’s exclusion from WHO anti-virus planning
“Taiwan’s exclusion from World Health Organization meetings on the coronavirus outbreak has united the island’s political parties, who normally agree on little, especially to do with China. Taiwan is not a member of the WHO due to the objection of China, which considers it a Chinese province with no right to participate in international organizations as a separate entity. … Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, re-elected by a landslide this month on a platform of standing up to China, this week called on the WHO to set aside political considerations and grant it full access to virus updates…” (Blanchard/Nebehay, 1/24).

Additional coverage of the U.S. and U.K. response to the coronavirus outbreak is available from The Hill, Reuters (2), and STAT.

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WHO Committee Declines To Declare Novel Coronavirus International Public Health Emergency Citing Limited Spread Outside China

Devex: Novel coronavirus outbreak ‘not yet’ a global health emergency — Tedros
“The novel coronavirus outbreak, or 2019-nCoV, that has infected over 800 people is an emergency in China, but not yet for the rest of the world, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said late Thursday as he announced his decision not to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern…” (Ravelo, 1/24).

New York Times: Coronavirus Is Spreading, but WHO Says It’s Not a Global Emergency
“…Although the disease has reached beyond China, the number of cases in other countries is still relatively small, and the disease does not seem to be spreading within those countries, agency officials said. … The committee weighing the decision was divided, its chairman, Dr. Didier Houssin, said during the briefing. Some members felt the course of the outbreak warranted an emergency declaration now, but others said it that was too soon to decide, citing the limited number of cases in countries outside China as well as the country’s efforts to contain the virus…” (Grady, 1/23).

STAT: WHO declines to declare China virus outbreak a global health emergency
“…Tedros said the world should be ready for additional cases and an evolution in the outbreak and that he could reconvene the emergency committee as circumstances changed. ‘It could be in a day, it could be in a couple, it could be any time,’ he said. The committee did recommend that WHO send an international mission of experts to China to assist the country’s investigation and response. Tedros accepted that suggestion, but China has to agree to it before a team can go…” (Joseph, 1/23).

U.N. News: Coronavirus: ‘An emergency in China, but not yet a global health emergency’
“…A statement released by WHO soon after the press conference, noted that the committee members agree on the urgency of the situation, and suggested the Committee should be reconvened ‘in a matter of days’ to examine the situation further. The committee made a number of recommendations regarding measures to control the outbreak. Its members advised WHO to provide information to the international community via an international multidisciplinary operation, in order to enhance understanding of the situation and its public health impact…” (1/23).

Additional coverage of the committee’s decision is available from AP, Bloomberg, CNN, NBC, Science, Science Speaks, and USA TODAY.

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China Imposes Widespread Travel Bans At Start Of Lunar New Year Despite Disagreement Over Effectiveness In Stopping Viral Spread

Reuters: China heads into Lunar New Year on shutdown as virus toll hits 26
“China shut part of the Great Wall and suspended public transport in 10 cities, stranding millions of people at the start of the Lunar New Year holiday on Friday as authorities rush to contain a virus that has killed 26 people and infected more than 800…” (Hua et al., 1/24).

Vox: The evidence on travel bans for diseases like coronavirus is clear: They don’t work
“…At best, travel restrictions, and even airport screenings, delay the spread of disease but don’t impact the number of people who eventually get sick. Instead, they make it harder for international aid and experts to reach communities affected by disease. They are also expensive, resource-intensive, and potentially harmful to the economies of cities and countries involved…” (Belluz/Hoffman, 1/23).

Additional coverage of China’s travel bans is available from AP, Reuters, SciDev.Net, The Telegraph, and Washington Post.

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CEPI To Fund Research Into 3 Possible Vaccines For Coronavirus; Gilead Examining Coronavirus Treatment Potential Of Experimental Ebola Drug

Reuters: Epidemic response group says starts work on 3 possible China virus vaccines
“Three separate research teams are to start work on developing potential vaccines against the new coronavirus that is causing a disease epidemic in China, a global coalition set up to fight diseases said on Thursday. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which is co-funding the emergency projects, said the plan was to have at least one potential vaccine in clinical trials by June…” (1/23).

Reuters: Gilead assessing potential use of Ebola drug as China virus treatment
“Gilead Sciences Inc. said on Thursday it was assessing whether its experimental Ebola treatment could be used against the new coronavirus that has sickened hundreds of people in China and led to at least 18 deaths…” (Steenhuysen/Mishra, 1/23).

Coverage on a theory stating the new coronavirus originated in snakes is available from Nature/Scientific American and Wired.

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China Quickly Building 1K-Bed Quarantine Hospital To House Patients Infected With Coronavirus

AP: China building a hospital to treat virus, expands lockdowns
“China announced Friday that it is swiftly building a 1,000-bed hospital dedicated to patients infected with a new virus that has killed 26 people, sickened hundreds and prompted unprecedented lockdowns of cities during the country’s most important holiday…” (Wang et al., 1/24).

Additional coverage of China’s efforts to treat and prevent the new coronavirus, as well as general information on the virus, is available from NPR, Reuters (2) (3), STAT, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post (2), and Vox.

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Afghanistan, Pakistan See Increase In Reported Polio Cases In 2019; Vaccination Efforts Hindered By Militant Threats, Misinformation

VOA: Polio Remains Threat in Militant-hit Areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan
“Afghanistan and Pakistan witnessed a spike in reported polio cases last year, further highlighting what local officials call an imminent threat to the border region between the two countries caused by militant threats and misinformation. … According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria are the only countries in the world where polio has not been eliminated. While WHO is on the verge of declaring Nigeria polio-free, Afghanistan and Pakistan are seeing an uptick in new cases since 2018…” (Mohammad/Habibzada, 1/24).

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Heavy Rains, Flooding Threaten Food Security For Millions In East Africa

The Guardian: ‘Food prices shot up’: floods spark a scramble for survival in east Africa
“…A series of floods across east Africa has been the latest shock to the region’s food supply, wiping out crops and raising prices in the areas most heavily affected. The floods, resulting from unusually heavy seasonal rains from August to December, have had a devastating impacts. More than 280 people have reportedly been killed, hundreds of thousands have been displaced, and infrastructure across the region has been destroyed, according to the U.N. But people now face a longer-term effect, one that has been snowballing around the region for years: food insecurity…” (Hervey, 1/24).

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Scientists Can Potentially Mass-Produce Snake Venom With New Technique To Make Antivenom

The Atlantic: There’s a Perfectly Good Reason to Mass-Produce Snake Venom
“…The venom glands of snakes are among nature’s most potent weapons. Hans Clevers can now grow them in his lab, mass-producing little disembodied blobs that secrete the same cocktail of toxins as their natural counterparts. … There’s something a little sinister about a lab that can mass-produce snake venom, but these organoids have many beneficial uses. Snakebites, which kill between 81,000 and 138,000 people every year, have been described as ‘arguably the world’s biggest hidden health crisis.’ … Antivenom, the only proven treatment for snakebites, is made by collecting venom from live snakes, injecting it into horses, and harvesting the antibodies that the animals produce — a technique that hasn’t changed for centuries. Organoids offer a more modern approach…” (Yong, 1/23).

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More News In Global Health

Devex: The complete interview with Gavi CEO Seth Berkley (Kumar, 1/24).

Devex: How South Africa is spearheading efforts to tackle MDR-TB (1/24).

France 24: Davos 2020: What should taxes be spent on? (Carroll, 1/23).

The Guardian: Zimbabwe urged to prioritize children as record poverty causes food shortages (Chingono, 1/24).

Healio: Patients with Ebola virus, Lassa fever can be treated without infecting health care personnel (Stulpin, 1/24).

The Lancet: Humanitarian crises: needs grow as health funding falls (Zarocostas, 1/25).

Reuters: Yemen’s frontline port struggles to fight deadly fever (Barrington et al., 1/24).

U.N. News: Health services for Syrian women caught up in war, foster safety and hope: UNFPA (1/23).

Xinhua: 2030 Agenda should become master plan for each country’s development: U.N. chief (1/24).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Reflect On Past 3 Years Of Mexico City Policy

The Hill: Reflecting on three years of Trump’s Global Gag Rule
Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Andy Levin (D-Mich.)

“As two members of Congress committed to a strong U.S. foreign policy and the effective provision of foreign assistance, we are deeply troubled by what we see around the world three years after President Trump implemented and radically expanded the disastrous [Mexico City policy, otherwise known as the global gag rule,] on Jan. 23, 2017. … The U.S. is a world leader in global health with a powerful legacy of transforming lives. … We should be building on our global health successes — not tying our own hands. … [T]he U.S. cannot abdicate its leadership on global health because of partisan politics. Passing the Global HER Act would end this devastating policy once and for all, restoring our country’s international leadership and ensuring that women, men, and children around the world are able to access the health care they so desperately need” (1/23).

Rewire.News: Three Years Later, Trump’s ‘Global Gag Rule’ Continues to Devastate Global Health
Monica Kerrigan, executive director of Planned Parenthood Global, and Nelly Munyasia, executive director of Reproductive Health Kenya (RHNK)

“… The global gag rule threatens access to a range of health services, silences local advocacy, and emboldens opponents of human rights. It must be repealed. … As countries around the world grapple with how to achieve health care for all people, we need to ensure sexual and reproductive health is included — and abortion must be a part of that. Because abortion is health care, and health care is a human right…” (1/23).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss China's Response To Novel Coronavirus, Other Issues Surrounding Disease Outbreaks

ABC News Australia: How the coronavirus started in China — and why that’s actually a saving grace
Simon Reid, associate professor of communicable disease control at the University of Queensland (1/23).

Bloomberg: Chinese Food Will Determine the Spread of Pandemics
David Fickling, Bloomberg opinion columnist (1/22).

Foreign Policy: Wuhan’s Virus and Quarantine Will Hit the Poor Hardest
Rui Zhong, program assistant for the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center, and James Palmer, senior editor at Foreign Policy (1/22).

The Guardian: China’s response to the coronavirus shows what it learned from the SARS cover-up
Thomas Abraham, author (1/23).

New York Times: Is America Ready for Another Outbreak?
Saad B. Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health (1/23).

Washington Post: China’s coronavirus outbreak has prompted some travel restrictions. That could backfire.
Catherine Z. Worsnop, assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy (1/24).

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World Must Address 'Four 21st Century Challenges With Four 21st-Century Solutions,' U.N. Secretary General Writes In Opinion Piece

IPS: U.N. Plans to Launch a “Decade of Action” to Deliver Development Goals by 2030
António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations

“2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. … Yet anniversaries are not about celebrating the past; they are about looking ahead. … I see ‘four horsemen’ in our midst — four looming threats that endanger 21st-century progress and imperil 21st-century possibilities. … These four horsemen — epic geopolitical tensions, the climate crisis, global mistrust, and the downsides of technology — can jeopardize every aspect of our shared future. … We must address these four 21st-century challenges with four 21st-century solutions. … The year ahead will be pivotal for our common future. … At this 75th anniversary milestone, let us make the difficult yet vital decisions across our agenda that will secure a peaceful future for all” (1/23).

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More Action Needed To Address Antimicrobial Resistance, Lancet Editorial Says

The Lancet: The antimicrobial crisis: enough advocacy, more action
Editorial Board

“…Addressing [antimicrobial resistance (AMR)] is a complex issue. The formal tripartite of WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Organisation for Animal Health must have a major role in identifying and promoting the implementation of feasible strategies to tackle AMR, eventually leading to a global governance mechanism whereby evidence-based interventions that are feasible and acceptable can be enshrined. One idea mooted is a legally binding global treaty akin to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Without an overarching global mechanism, to which countries commit, efforts to slow the evolution of antimicrobial resistance will continue to be piecemeal and not meet the scale and urgency that this global challenge demands” (1/25).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts Discuss Reactions To, Efforts To Stop Novel Coronavirus Spread

Chatham House: New Coronavirus Outbreak: Concern Is Warranted, Panic Is Not
David Heymann, distinguished fellow, and Lara Hollmann, research assistant, both with the Chatham House Global Health Programme, discuss the knowns and unknowns of the novel coronavirus outbreak, writing, “It is important to take a precautionary approach while uncertainty persists. It is also important not to overreact and for measures to be scientifically sound. Concern over this outbreak is due, but panic is not” (1/23).

U.N. Dispatch: How Multilateral Cooperation Can Stop the Coronavirus Outbreak From Spreading
Mark Leon Goldberg, editor of U.N. Dispatch, discusses the value of multilateral approaches to disease outbreaks, writing, “Whether or not a PHEIC is declared, the World Health Organization and the International Health Regulations will guide the global response. Because these agreements are already place, and because the WHO is an operational arm of the United Nations system, governments around the world will not have to waste time or effort figuring out how to cooperate with each other to stop an infectious disease from spreading globally. Those transaction costs have already been paid, allowing governments to mount a response much more quickly…” (1/23).

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Global Health Experts Discuss Role Of Health Technology Assessment In Global Health Transitions

Center for Global Development: Why HTA and Pooled Purchasing Must Be at the Heart of Global Health Transitions
Kalipso Chalkidou, director of global health policy and senior fellow at CGD, and Robert Hecht, president of Pharos Global Health Advisors and professor at the Yale School of Public Health, discuss the use of Health Technology Assessment (HTA) to prioritize investment in global health technologies and services, writing, “By making the creation and deployment of HTA institutions and tools one of their top priorities for the coming decade, [middle-income countries (MICs)] will be better able to navigate and weather the challenges of transitioning billions of dollars of disease programs from outside to domestic financing and management, while at the same time laying the foundations for smarter choices in adopting new technologies and services to improve the overall health of their populations and creating viable markets for driving global R&D investment toward MICs’ own priorities” (1/23).

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UNAIDS, GBCHealth Announce Business Alliance To End AIDS By 2030 At World Economic Forum

UNAIDS: The Business Alliance to End AIDS by 2030 is announced at the World Economic Forum
“The Business Alliance to End AIDS by 2030, a public-private coalition co-hosted by UNAIDS and GBCHealth, was announced [Thursday] in Davos, Switzerland, on the margins of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. The Business Alliance to End AIDS brings together forward-looking companies to strengthen cross-sector collaboration, build on common values, and create spaces for effective collaboration. It aims to provide businesses with the necessary tools and support needed from public sector partners to help realize the goal of ending AIDS by 2030…” (1/23).

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Haiti Marks 1 Year Free Of Confirmed Cholera Cases, PAHO Announces

PAHO: Haiti reaches one-year free of Cholera
“The cholera outbreak in Haiti that began in October 2010, affecting over 820,000 people and killing 9,792, has been stopped in its tracks, with the country reaching 1-year free of confirmed cases this week. The achievement follows concerted efforts from Haiti, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and other partner agencies to address the root causes of cholera, including through increased surveillance to detect and respond to possible-flare-ups; the implementation of rapid diagnosis initiatives; and the treatment of cases with adequate rehydration and care…” (1/23).

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WHO Announces Sudden Passing Of Peter Salama, Executive Director Of WHO's Division For UHC

World Health Organization: WHO mourns passing of Dr. Peter Salama
“The World Health Organization announces with deep sadness the sudden death of Dr. Peter Salama, executive director of WHO’s Division for Universal Health Coverage — Life Course. … Dr. Salama, a medical epidemiologist from Australia, joined WHO in 2016 as executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies program, which he led until 2019…” (1/24).

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From the U.S. Government

HHS Release Outlines Actions Taken By Trump Administration To Address Reproductive Health, Religious Conscience Domestically, Abroad

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Trump Administration Actions to Protect Life and Conscience
This release outlines actions taken by the Trump administration to address reproductive health and religious conscience, including both domestic and global actions (1/23).

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USAID Provides Humanitarian Assistance To Philippines To Address Taal Volcano Eruption

USAID: USAID Provides Humanitarian Assistance for the Eruption of Taal Volcano in the Republic of the Philippines
“The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing an initial $100,000 to support the humanitarian response of the Government of the Philippines to the eruption of Taal Volcano in Batangas Province … With this aid, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance is funding World Vision to provide emergency relief supplies — including sleeping mats, blankets, and hygiene supplies such as soap and toothbrushes — to approximately 7,600 people who have evacuated their homes because of the ongoing eruption…” (1/22).

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