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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald Resigns Over Financial Conflicts Of Interest

POLITICO: CDC director who traded tobacco stock resigns
“Trump’s top public health official resigned from her post Wednesday after mounting questions about financial conflicts of interest, HHS announced. Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald’s resignation comes one day after POLITICO reported she bought shares in a tobacco company — the leading cause of preventable disease and death and an issue she had long championed — one month into her tenure as CDC director…” (Ehley, 1/31).

Additional coverage of this developing story is available from CNN, the New York Times, NPR, STAT, and the Washington Post.

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Trump Administration's Proposed Cuts To Global Health Funding Threaten Malaria Gains

IRIN: Gains against malaria at risk from U.S. cuts, donor complacency
“…Begun under former president George W. Bush, the fight against malaria is often cited as one of the U.S. government’s most successful global health campaigns. But that could all change with President Donald Trump’s threat to cut foreign assistance around the globe. It comes at a critical time in the fight against malaria, when threatened cuts could tip the balance in an already precarious struggle. So far, the budget process has been in flux, but the U.S. Congress appears primed to keep spending levels steady from last year. Malaria advocates say that is effectively a cut, however, as it does not keep up with program cost increases…” (Loewenberg, 1/30).

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Quartz Fact Checks U.S. President Trump's SOTU Claim That U.S. Does 'More Than Any Other Country To Help The Needy'

Quartz: Fact check: Does the U.S. “do more than any other country” to help the poor?
“‘The United States is a compassionate nation. We are proud that we do more than any other country to help the needy, the struggling, and the underprivileged all over the world,’ said Donald Trump in [his] State of the Union address, by way of introducing his plan to curb legal immigration. In absolute numbers, it is true that the U.S. donates a lot of money. … But a better measure of America’s generosity would be percentage of GDP given in aid, and the contribution per capita. By both these measures, the U.S. is not a particularly compassionate nation, nor does it do ‘more than any other country’…” (Merelli, 1/30).

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Vox Explores Changes In Health, Science Language Under Trump Administration

Vox: The disturbing new language of science under Trump, explained
“…Language is undoubtedly suffering in the Trump era, particularly the language of health and science. … Some of these changes in language are top-down, and they’re meant to shake up priorities, rebrand old ideas, or obfuscate truths. But other moves are happening from the bottom up, as people working inside scientific agencies try to protect their programs from funding cuts and from their new ideological leaders…” (Belluz/Irfan, 1/30).

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WHO Health Emergencies Programme Making Progress But Challenges Remain, Report Says

Devex: 18 months in, how is WHO’s health emergencies program working?
“…When the [West African Ebola] crisis waned, much of the criticism fell on the World Health Organization for its initial response and lack of preparedness. The agency pledged to do better and launched a new Health Emergencies Programme that would operate coherently across the three levels of the organization, with a clear set of structure, processes, and lines of authority. Fast forward to 2017, and the program has made progress in making this a reality, according to a new report by the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee. … But significant challenges remain, says the IOAC…” (Ravelo, 1/31).

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UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore Discusses Aim To Further Connect Private, Nonprofit Worlds In Devex Interview

Devex: UNICEF’s new executive director proposes a shift in priorities
“…During her first overseas trip since assuming the role at the start of January, [UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta] Fore said she hopes to further blend business and development in the coming year. The former administrator for the United States Agency for International Development, who most recently served as chairman and chief executive officer of Holsman International, wants to combine her extensive development and corporate experience by connecting the business and nonprofit worlds. … Devex spoke exclusively with the executive director during her trip about her global vision, philosophy, and plans for the future of the organization…” (Mednick, 1/31).

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Former Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Signs Bill Banning FGM On Last Day In Office

Refinery 29: This Female President Did Something Huge On Her Last Day In Office
“…Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the [former] Liberian president … and also Africa’s first ever female president, used her last day in office to sign an executive order banning female genital mutilation (FGM) for a year. … Around half of all women among Liberia’s population of 4.6 million have undergone FGM, and it is considered a rite of passage…” (Gil, 1/26).

RT News: Liberia imposes 12-month moratorium on female genital mutilation
“…Sirleaf, Africa’s first female president, handed over power to former soccer star and president-elect George Weah on January 22, having signed the Domestic Violence Bill as one of her final acts as head of state. The move has not been widely publicized in Liberia as it took place on the eve of Weah’s inauguration. … The temporary ban makes it an offense to perform FGM on anyone under the age of 18, and requires explicit consent if performed on an adult…” (1/26).

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WHO Executive Board Approves Draft Resolution Addressing Global Snakebite Burden

Intellectual Property Watch: Snakebite Gets Attention Of WHO Executive Board, Draft Resolution Approved
“A resolution to address the issue of snakebites, mainly in developing countries, was met with undisputed approval last week at the World Health Organization Executive Board. Some countries suggested that scorpion bites be mentioned in the resolution, which was deemed premature…” (Saez, 1/30).

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More News In Global Health

Global Health NOW: The Pandemic Everyone Fears (Myers, 1/30).

Gulfshore Life: Barbara Bush and the Battle for Women’s Health (Reed, February 2018).

Newsweek: Bacteria that cause leprosy are undergoing scary mutations that resist drug treatments (Matthews, 1/30).

Reuters: Air strikes on Syria hospitals affect hundreds of thousands of people — U.N. (Miles, 1/30).

Reuters: Southeast Asia a ‘hotspot’ for antibiotic abuse, FAO official says (Lefevre, 1/31).

TIME: Bill Gates Reveals His Father Suffers From Alzheimer’s Disease — and He’s Committing $100 Million to Stopping It (Carr, 1/30).

U.N. News Centre: Without young people, Global Goals will not be achieved, U.N. forum told (1/30).

U.N. News Centre: New U.N. funding to help sustain critical aid programs for hundreds of thousands in Ethiopia (1/29).

U.N. News Centre: Somali leaders, international partners, and U.N. determined to make Somalia famine resistant (1/30).

Xinhua News: Brazil sees 3,000 Zika-related birth defects in past two years (1/31).

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Editorials and Opinions

Philippines 'Must Move Quickly' To Reverse Growing HIV Epidemic

Philippine Star: Editorial — HIV epidemic
Editorial Board

“Here’s another reason to take precautions against the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus: health experts warn that a drug-resistant HIV strain is on the rise. … This makes safe sex and other precautionary measures all the more important to prevent the spread of HIV. Six months ago the United Nations’ health ministry reported that for the past six years, the Philippines has registered the fastest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the Asia-Pacific … There are no signs of a let-up, and the toll keeps growing. … Other countries such as Thailand have shown that it is possible to reverse a rising tide of HIV cases. Many AIDS victims died at the prime of their lives. With heightened efforts, this tragedy can be eased. Health experts have warned that the Philippines’ HIV/AIDS problem has reached epidemic proportions. The country must move quickly to prevent more deaths” (1/31).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Gender Equality In Health, Education, Politics

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Davos: On the path towards gender equality
Toyin Ojora Saraki, founder and president of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa

“…[At the World Economic Forum held in Davos this] year, it has been reassuring to see gender equality at the top of the global agenda. Yet far more needs to be done to support the plight of women, especially in the developing world. Improving access to health care and education is an obvious first step in our fight against gender equality. … [Ensuring equal access to education] is a key step toward reaching gender parity and draws attention to the need for investment in girls’ education in countries where education is not universal. Another invaluable area for investment with proven positive impact on gender equality is health care, particularly maternal and reproductive health care. Ensuring that there is ‘health for all’ will go a long way in reducing the gender gap, while also reducing poverty and driving economic growth. These areas deserve prioritization and commitment, and I urge international institutions and governments to respond to the critical needs of women globally…” (1/29).

Washington Post: How anti-feminism is shaping world politics
Ishaan Tharoor, writer for the Washington Post

“Last week at the World Economic Forum, women’s rights seemed at the top of the agenda. … Indeed, you don’t have to look hard to see the political appeal of anti-feminism in many parts of the world. A host of illiberal governments have rooted a kind of anti-feminism at the core of their nationalist platforms. … [I]t’s a reflection of a broader phenomenon: right-wing governments all wielding anti-feminism as a political cudgel. The enduring reality of the moment is that it remains a profoundly effective tactic. But, in the United States at least, there’s a brewing backlash. A historic number of female candidates are competing for major office in the 2018 midterm elections. … Whether they succeed in bringing a new wave of American women to power, however, they may find themselves confronted by an all-too-familiar opponent” (1/30).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

New Report Highlights Risks, Opportunities For Health Systems, Donors As Polio Funding Winds Down

Oxfam’s “From Poverty to Power”: When is eradicating a major disease a disaster for health care?
Laura Kerr, senior policy advocacy officer for child health at RESULTS U.K., discusses a new report on how the end of polio could present both risks and opportunities for donors. Kerr writes, “As things stand now, the potential crisis caused by the wind down of [the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)] is not fully realized. This limits the ability of the global health community to have the much-needed frank conversation about what comes next after GPEI. Without leadership from the five GPEI partners to realistically address the imminent challenges which are currently presenting themselves, we’re walking straight into a preventable health financing crisis and it’s the most vulnerable in the world [who] will be left suffering” (1/30).

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Blog Post Discusses Challenges, Risks Of Using Blended Finance To Achieve SDGs

Public Finance International: Is blended finance a silver bullet or a double-edged sword?
Polly Meeks, senior policy and advocacy officer at Eurodad, discusses the challenges of using blended finance to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Meeks writes, “[A] growing body of analysis from civil society organizations and official bodies suggests [the] limitations and risks [of blended finance] are significant. Key challenges include: Opportunity costs. … A shortage of compelling evidence on impact. … Weak alignment with development effectiveness principles. … A risk that the real winner will be the private sector in donor countries, at the expense of local development. … [A]s yet there are too few safeguards to prevent blended finance harming sustainable development outcomes for the poorest. Until such safeguards are in place, far from achieving the SDGs, scaling up blended finance risks jeopardizing some of the most fundamental parts of the agenda” (1/30).

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Global Fund's Recently Launched HER Initiative Aims To Expand, Leverage Investments To Address HIV Among Women, Girls

Friends of the Global Fight: The Global Fund Launches HER Initiative to Invest in Women and Girls to End AIDS
Katie Broendel, senior communications manager at Friends of the Global Fight, discusses the Global Fund’s recently launched HER (HIV Epidemic Response) initiative, “which will focus on bringing in new partners and resources from the private sector to drive down infection rates among adolescent girls and young women.” Broendel notes, “HER builds upon the groundbreaking leadership of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and its DREAMS partnership, which works to support determined, resilient, empowered, AIDS-free, mentored, and safe women” (1/30).

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Global Fund, Tanzania Sign Grant Agreements To Accelerate Efforts To End HIV, TB, Malaria Epidemics

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Tanzania and Global Fund Sign New Grants to Accelerate End of Epidemics
“The Global Fund and health partners in Tanzania [Monday] signed grant agreements to work toward ending the epidemics of HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria. The new grants aim to reduce the average malaria prevalence in Tanzania to less than one percent by 2020 as well as reduce the TB incidence rate by 20 percent and TB deaths by 35 percent by 2020. The investments will also seek to increase coverage of HIV services to achieve the 90-90-90 fast-track treatment targets … by 2020…” (1/30).

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France To Assess Its '5% Initiative' That Supports Countries' Implementation Of Global Fund Grants

France Diplomatie: Health — Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — Assessment of the “5% Initiative” for the period 2011-2016 (Paris, 30 January 2018)
This press release opens a public comment period on the assessment of the French government’s “5% Initiative” for the period 2011-2016. The initiative reserves five percent of the French contribution to the Global Fund to support “the design and implementation of projects and for the assessment of the grants allocated in order to enhance their effectiveness and their impact on health. … The assessment underscores the coherence of this initiative and its effectiveness in terms of strengthening the health systems of recipient countries. Based on the identification of the mechanism’s limits, it will make several recommendations for sustaining the fund over the coming years…” (1/30).

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WHO Surveillance Report Highlights Global Threat Of AMR, Data Gaps

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: WHO report on global antibiotic resistance highlights growing threats in the face of surveillance gaps
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” discusses findings from WHO’s recently released Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS) report. Barton notes the report’s findings “show some of the world’s most common and potentially deadly infections gaining ground globally against the antibiotics used to treat them, while monitoring, coordination, and communication gaps hamper efforts to both assess and respond to the scope of the threat” (1/30).

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