KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Devex Examines Global Health, Development Issues To Watch In U.S. Congress This Year

Devex: What to watch in U.S. Congress in 2019
“On Capitol Hill, the new year brings with it new leadership of key committees, a divided Congress, a few development-related bills likely to be considered, and a fair amount of uncertainty about what’s in store after a period of bipartisan cooperation on development issues. … In conversations with development experts who work with Congress, several themes emerged about what to watch in the year ahead in Congress: new leadership, increased oversight, a number of legislative priorities, and the budget fight…” (Saldinger, 12/4).

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Guardian Examines How Trump's Reinstatement, Expansion Of Mexico City Policy Helped Mobilize Women Worldwide To Campaign For Health, Human Rights

The Guardian: ‘A gift to feminists’: how Trump’s ‘gag rule’ inspired a worldwide movement
“…The reintroduction of the Mexico City policy — or ‘global gag rule’ as it’s commonly known — banned overseas NGOs from receiving U.S. federal funding if they provided any abortion services. … Lilianne Ploumen, the then Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, called on donors to try to plug the … hole that would be left when the global gag rule came into force later that year. The SheDecides movement was born. … SheDecides has morphed from a top-down urgent international response to Trump’s policies into a growing global grassroots movement campaigning for the fundamental rights of women and girls to have control of their own bodies, everywhere…” (Ford, 12/26).

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House Democrats Pass Bill To Reopen Government That Would Weaken Mexico City Policy; Senate Will Not Consider Bill

BuzzFeed News: House Democrats Just Passed A Bill That Undercuts Trump’s Abortion Policy
“House Democrats passed a bill to try to end the government shutdown on Thursday night that would also undercut a major anti-abortion policy Donald Trump implemented as one of his first acts as president nearly two years ago. The bill will not become law, with both the Senate and Trump already saying they won’t consider it as both sides continue to fight about funding for the border wall…” (O’Connor, 1/3).

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U.S.-Supported Scientists Discover Marburg-Carrying Bats In West Africa

CIDRAP News: Marburg-carrying bats found in West Africa for first time
“A hunt to find the animal reservoir for Ebola that began in 2016 in the wake of Sierra Leone’s outbreak has found live Marburg virus, a related pathogen that can also cause hemorrhagic fever, for the first time in West Africa. The discovery came from researchers involved in two projects: one led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Njala University in Sierra Leone and the other a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded team from the University of California (UC), Davis, and the University of Makeni in Sierra Leone…” (Schnirring, 12/20).

Additional coverage of this story is available from NBC News, New York Times, Reuters, and Washington Post.

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U.K. DFID Announces $1.3M In Funding To Help Enhance WHO's Early Warning Alert And Response System

Bloomberg: U.K. Gives $1.3 Million to U.N. Health Agency Ahead of 2019 Crises
“The U.K. will provide one million pounds ($1.3 million) to the World Health Organization as part of stepped up preparations for expected global humanitarian crises in 2019. Funds from the Department for International Development will enhance the United Nations agency’s Early Warning Alert and Response System to prevent the spread of life-threatening infectious diseases, according to a statement…” (Benitez, 12/30).

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Ongoing Violence In DRC Hindering Ebola Outbreak Response; Total Recorded Cases Exceed 600

CIDRAP News: DRC Ebola outbreak total rises to 613 infections
“…In a delayed update for Jan. 3, the DRC’s health ministry [on Friday] reported one more case, a patient from Komanda in Ituri province. Also, the online dashboard from the WHO’s African regional office reflects four additional cases, which would raise the outbreak total to 613 cases, including 565 confirmed and 54 suspected cases. Health officials are still investigating 54 suspected infections. In addition, the Jan. 3 DRC update reported two more deaths, one in Beni and the other in Butembo, lifting the outbreak’s fatality count to 370. The number of people vaccinated has reached 54,522, according to [Friday’s] statement…” (Schnirring, 1/4).

The Hill: Election violence in Congo hinders Ebola response
“Violent protests and attacks on health responders are complicating efforts to combat the deadly Ebola virus as it spreads through several cities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), senior officials say, raising the chances that the virus may spread to major cities or across international boundaries…” (Wilson, 1/4).

Reuters: WHO says progress against Ebola in Congo will be lost if violence goes on
“Progress in fighting Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola outbreak, the second worst ever, will be reversed if fighting continues around the disease hotspots of Beni and Butembo, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on [December 28]…” (Miles, 12/28).

Additional coverage of the ongoing Ebola outbreak in DRC is available from HuffPost, New York Times, STAT (2), and U.N. News.

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Media Outlets, Experts Look Back At Global Health, Development Issues Of 2018, Make Predictions For 2019

Devex: The 8 biggest global health controversies and scandals in 2018 (Ravelo, 12/20).

Devex: Win, lose, or draw: how U.S. aid priorities fared in 2018 (Igoe/Saldinger, 12/21).

The Guardian: Deadly weather: the human cost of 2018’s climate disasters — visual guide (Levitt et al., 12/21).

Insider: Bill Gates says potentially crippling and deadly virus that we’ve nearly wiped out could ‘return in a big way if we don’t finish the job’ (Praderio, 12/31).

IRIN: 2018 in Review: Humanitarian policy and practice (12/27).

IRIN: Ten humanitarian crises and trends to watch in 2019 (1/2).

IRIN: Six aid policy priorities to watch in 2019 (1/3).

IRIN: My hope for 2019 is… (1/4).

NPR: 7 Of Our Most Popular Global Health And Development Stories Of 2018 (Gharib, 12/19).

NPR: The Health Of The World In 2018, By The Numbers (Brink, 12/28).

NPR: What’s Coming In 2019? Global Thinkers Make Big, Bold Predictions (1/4).

Quartz: How the world got better in 2018, in 15 charts (Wolfson, 12/24).

Quartz: Here’s what Bill Gates learned at work in 2018 (Nelson, 12/30).

Quartz: The crises that will keep humanitarians up at night in 2019 (Hu, 12/19).

SciDev.Net: Missed COP targets to Yemen famine — 2018 in review (Vesper, 12/31).

SciDev.Net: Conflict diseases to snakebites — 2018 in features (Vesper, 12/27).

STAT: 3 global health challenges to watch in 2019 (Branswell, 12/24).

STAT: What will 2019 bring for science and medicine? We asked the experts (12/31).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Ravaged by Ebola and war, Congo named most neglected crisis of 2018 (Batha, 12/20).

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More News In Global Health

BBC News: Yemen cholera epidemic strain ‘came from eastern Africa’ (1/3).

CBS News: Gayle Smith, ONE Campaign CEO, warns against complacency in AIDS, Ebola fights (Rosenkrantz, 12/3).

Devex: Nigeria faces a health financing cliff edge (Adepoju, 1/7).

Devex: Q&A: A ‘twin-track’ approach to disability-inclusive disaster preparedness (Rogers, 1/7).

Devex: MFAN fires executive director over financial mismanagement (Welsh, 1/4).

The Guardian: Yemen: Houthi rebels’ food aid theft only tip of iceberg, officials say (Beaumont, 1/2).

The Guardian: Palestinian superbug epidemic could spread, say doctors (Davies/Graham-Harrison, 12/31).

NPR: If A Worm Makes You Sick, Can This Cup Of Tea Cure You? (Beaubien, 1/3).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: From obese to starving, nutrition crisis prompts SOS call for new approach (Win, 12/28).

U.N. News: FROM THE FIELD: Powering up health care in sub-Saharan Africa (1/2).

Washington Post: An unnatural disaster (Raghavan et al., 12/27).

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Editorials and Opinions

Americans Should Continue To Uphold, Ensure Children's Health, Well-Being Worldwide

The Hill: In 2018, the world saw wars on children — and they listened
Caryl M. Stern, president and CEO of UNICEF USA

“…[A] collective thread emerged [in 2018]: these conflicts [across Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East] have devolved into wars on children, and every day, they continue to threaten children’s livelihood and well-being. … But as many people asked themselves, ‘What future have we built for the world’s children?’ another powerful trend we saw this year was that Americans want to help. … Through the dedication of advocates and partners, global under-five child mortality has decreased by more than half, and three million kids are saved each year by lifesaving vaccines. Deaths caused by polio have decreased by over 99 percent since 1988. Some of the world’s most vulnerable communities in over 100 countries now have access to safe water and sanitation. And, we’ve garnered bipartisan support from government officials, as we worked to help stop child marriage in 12 priority countries. But despite this progress, there is more work to be done. That’s why, next year, we’re calling on government leaders and individuals to continue using their voices, their wallets, their social media platforms — whatever they have at their disposal — to help uphold children’s rights in every corner of the world. By doing so, together we can build a world in which every child has a chance to survive and thrive” (12/25).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Global Action Needed To End Malaria

Miami Herald: Malaria has come roaring back in Venezuela, which puts the region, including South Florida, at risk
Former Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), Arthur H. Vandenberg distinguished fellow at the United Nations Foundation

“…Thanks to U.S. leadership, malaria no longer is a daily threat to Floridians. But that doesn’t mean the fight is over. … In fact, there’s been a recent spike in malaria cases in our region of the world. … Look at Venezuela. … Left unchecked, the threat from rising cases in Venezuela could reverse the progress experienced in the rest of the region. … Concerted efforts from the international community have eliminated malaria in many regions before, and we can do it again. Florida’s new congressional delegation must pledge to step up … Step up U.S. funding for bilateral and multilateral programs, as well as U.N. agencies, that are on the ground distributing bed nets, tracking the spread of the disease, and educating local communities on how to protect themselves from malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses. Step up our opposition to governments that prevent aid from reaching the most vulnerable populations facing malaria. And step up individual and political will to stop this preventable disease from taking more lives in the Americas and around the world. … [W]e have seen time and time again that investing in global health priorities yields immense returns and creates a more healthy and prosperous world. With a little investment we can stop the resurgence of malaria and stamp it out once and for all…” (1/3).

Project Syndicate: How to Stop Losing the Fight Against Malaria
Andrea Boggio, professor of legal studies at Bryant University, and Colin Ohrt, founding director of the Consortium for Health Action

“…After years of impressive gains, global efforts to combat the mosquito-borne illness have stalled. … More alarming, the death toll could climb far higher. Data from the Consortium for Health Action … shows a high risk of drug-resistant malaria spreading from Asia to sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s most malaria-affected region. … In 2015, the WHO set 2020 as a deadline for halting the transmission of plasmodium falciparum in Cambodia, and called for total elimination of malaria from Southeast Asia’s Greater Mekong Subregion by 2030. These ambitious targets are still achievable, but only if three key challenges are addressed. First, a coordinated strategy is needed to target the disease in areas where transmission rates are highest, the so-called malaria islands. … Second, the international donors must recognize the urgency of the looming malaria pandemic. … And, finally, we need new sources of money. … With the right level of support and coordination, we can eliminate multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria in Southeast Asia. The alternative — poor implementation, ineffective spending, and misdirected research — will mean that still-evolving malaria parasites will eventually reach Africa, a deadly scenario that would turn back the clock on decades of progress” (12/31).

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Anti-Vaccination Campaigns Pose Risk To Global Health Efforts

Financial Times: Falling vaccination rates pose a global health risk
Editorial Board

“…The health implications [of ‘anti-vax’ skepticism] are profound. Anti-vaccination campaigns defy decades of evidence of the indisputable global benefits of immunization. … Some fall in vaccination rates is a consequence of the effectiveness of immunization. As diseases are eliminated, the risk of the disease falls to the point where even mild side effects become more serious than the infection itself. This can lead to a fall in coverage — and the disease re-emerging. … If future generations are to be spared the scourges of their ancestors, public health officials, scientists, and doctors must sharpen communications. They need to learn to navigate the awkward terrain of social media, to engage with critics, and give more weight to credible scientific evidence. Public health urgently needs better defenses; the common good needs better advocates” (12/28).

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Community Engagement, Comprehensive Response Critical To DRC's Ebola Efforts

Devex: Opinion: In DRC Ebola crisis, every red line has been crossed
Jean-Philippe Marcoux, country director in DRC for Mercy Corps

“The international community must urgently apply the hard-won lessons from previous outbreaks of Ebola to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the country’s deadliest outbreak rages across its conflict-hit eastern provinces. … Within the constraints of this difficult context, the DRC Ministry of Health is leading the international medical response with WHO, but more support is urgently needed — specifically, funding for more agile partners who are already on the ground in conflict-hit areas, and are now on the frontlines of the epidemic too. … Community engagement is going to be critical to curbing the spread of Ebola and controlling this epidemic. … Building out a comprehensive response to the outbreak is our best shot at containing this epidemic, preventing future recurrences, and alleviating the suffering of the population of North Kivu who is affected by a continuing armed crisis. For too long, the humanitarian crisis in eastern DRC has been ignored. A lack of infrastructure, weak governance, and stunted economy has only intensified the suffering of the Congolese. … Let’s not [fail] to provide adequate support for the worst Ebola epidemic to strike the country” (12/20).

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International Community Faces Several Development Challenges In 2019

Devex: Facing harsh realities, the global development community confronts another fraught year
Raj Kumar, founding president and editor-in-chief at Devex

“…2018 was … an encouraging year in many ways. … Unfortunately, 2019 may not turn out so rosy. Political uncertainty and nationalist, anti-aid pronouncements are taking a toll around the world. As we enter 2019, the development community is coming to grips with harsh realities. … The outlines of an established global politics on aid are beginning to come into focus, and it’s a fraught landscape. Aid is now openly and directly discussed as a tool to stem migration, achieve foreign policy objectives, and derive domestic economic benefits, particularly for major donors including the U.S., China, Germany, and the U.K. As a result, even pro-international engagement donor governments such as Canada are becoming more cautious about funding ambitions. … This is a huge challenge for 2019 — with a major replenishment for the Global Fund coming midyear and a so-called rolling $2 billion replenishment for the Global Financing Facility only halfway completed. Then there’s the World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ plan to raise $14 billion, the triennial International Development Association replenishment, and the Green Climate Fund’s race to replenish its resources with doubled commitment from Germany, but without U.S. support. … Perhaps 2019 will be a transition year, a kind of blip before normalcy returns. More likely, the main trend we’re in the thick of today — the growing politicization of aid leading to budget pressures and dysfunction — will be with us for some time, regardless of short-term election results. … For global development professionals used to tough operating environments, this one just happens to be closer to home” (1/2).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Friends Of The Global Fight Manager Discusses Trip With U.S. Congressional Delegation To South Africa

Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Celebrating World AIDS Day: U.S. Congressional Delegation Visit to South Africa
Lanice Williams, advocacy and partnerships manager at Friends of the Global Fight, discusses her travel with “Representatives Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), and staff from both the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Global Citizen, as part of a learning tour in South Africa.” Williams notes, “Our visit to South Africa came at a perfect time as the country was celebrating the centenary of Nelson Mandela and World AIDS Day…” (12/21).

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ONE Blog Examines OECD's 2017 Aid Statistics

ONE Blog: Global aid is down, aid to Africa is up
ONE Senior Director for Development Finance Sara Harcourt examines OECD data on development finance, writing, “The Organization for Economic Development (OECD) — responsible for tracking official aid flows — has published final aid statistics for 2017 and alarmingly revealed that some donors are not prioritizing their commitments to end poverty by 2030. … On the whole, global aid was flat in 2017, with a slight reduction in real terms from the previous year…” (1/3).

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FT Health Features Review Of 2018, Predictions For 2019

FT Health: 2018 in review
“…In our final edition of 2018 we look back at the big themes of the year…” (Dodd/Jack, 12/21).

FT Health: Predictions for 2019
“The big themes for the year ahead: pharmaceutical takeovers; pricing pressure; and the potential for new diseases…” (Jack, 1/4).

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Blog Posts Review Global Health Innovation, Funding, Policies In 2018

Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs Blog”: A year in review: The global health innovation stories that shaped 2018
GHTC Communications Officer Marissa Chmiola and GHTC Program Assistant Ansley Kahn write, “Between reemerging crises, breakthrough scientific discoveries, and the continued looming threat of health research funding cuts, 2018 took us on a roller coaster ride of peril and promise. Now as the year comes to an end, GHTC is taking a moment to reflect on the global health innovation stories and news that shaped 2018…” (12/19).

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: Stalled funding, policies of 2018 pose continuing challenges to infectious disease responses ahead
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” writes, “A year that started with a shutdown of the U.S. government is ending the same way, demonstrating ongoing instability in American policy, funding, and global health leadership. At the same time, from events dividing the ranks of global HIV responders, to the first Ebola outbreak fought in a war zone, the year has highlighted needs for strengthened and science-based efforts to control and combat infectious diseases worldwide…” (12/28).

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January 2019 Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

WHO: Bulletin of the World Health Organization
The January 2019 WHO Bulletin features articles on various topics, including an editorial calling for papers on ethical challenges of digital technologies in public health; a news article on the continuing threat of Zika; and a research article on using the polio program in Nigeria to deliver primary health care (January 2019).

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Fall 2018 Issue Of Global Health Governance Journal Available Online

Global Health Governance: Fall 2018 Issue
This issue of Global Health Governance features various articles on global health diplomacy, security, coordination, and accountability (December 2018).

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From the U.S. Government

CDC, USAID Highlight Key Global, Domestic Health Issues From 2018

CDC: 2018 in Review: CDC Looks Back at the Year’s Most Pressing Health Threats
“From the opioid overdose epidemic to foodborne disease outbreaks and antimicrobial resistance to the Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), CDC worked around the clock — and around the globe — to protect Americans from health threats in 2018. … Here’s a closer look at some of the biggest health issues that CDC tackled in 2018…” (12/21).

USAID: USAID Global Health Top Moments
“As 2018 comes to a close, join us as we share a few key global health events, milestones, and highlights from the past year of our efforts at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to prevent child and maternal deaths, control the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and combat infectious diseases…” (December 2018).

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