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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim Announces Resignation More Than 3 Years Ahead Of Term's End

Bloomberg: Jim Yong Kim Stepping Down Early as World Bank President at End of Month
“Jim Yong Kim abruptly resigned as president of the World Bank more than three years ahead of schedule, potentially sparking an international tussle over who replaces him as the Trump administration questions the development lender’s purpose. Kristalina Georgieva, the bank’s second in command, will take over as interim president on Feb. 1, the Washington-based bank said Monday in a statement. In an email to employees of the lender, Kim said he’ll join a private firm focused on infrastructure investments in developing countries…” (Mayeda, 1/7).

Devex: Jim Kim’s resignation sparks questions about the next World Bank president
“…As the largest shareholder, the United States controls the selection process for the World Bank’s presidency, regularly appointing an American to the role in a tradition that has been criticized in recent years. Now, with Trump administration rhetoric that is critical of multilateralism, there are concerns over whom it may nominate to run the world’s largest multilateral development bank…” (Edwards, 1/8).

The Guardian: Jim Yong Kim resigns as World Bank president
“…Before Kim took over, the bank laid down criteria for appointing future presidents, which were designed to exclude officials with little experience of running large organizations or who lacked relevant experience, especially in the developing world. However, Trump is expected to use his effective power of veto to make sure a close adviser or a sympathetic political figure takes over. A senior official at an international charity, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was concerned that the World Bank’s aid efforts could be badly affected if the appointment became a political football…” (Inman, 1/7).

New York Times: World Bank President Abruptly Resigns
“…The Trump administration did surprise some development experts last year when it supported a $13 billion capital increase for the World Bank, the first such boost since 2010. The increase, which the White House had initially resisted, was conditional on the bank putting cost controls in place and came with the understanding that lending to China would be expected to decline. The bank lent $64 billion to developing countries last year, a figure that included China…” (Rappeport, 1/7).

Reuters: World Bank’s Kim abruptly resigns to join infrastructure firm
“…Kim said details about his new job would be released later. The physician and former Dartmouth College president said he would also rejoin the board of Partners in Health, a health advocacy group he co-founded 30 years ago. … Two people familiar with Kim’s shock announcement to the World Bank executive board said he was leaving of his own accord and was ‘not pushed out’ by the Trump administration…” (Lawder, 1/7).

Wall Street Journal: World Bank President Resigns to Join Investment Firm
“…The U.S. Treasury Department … takes the lead on issues with the World Bank, and would likely be the agency on the front lines of any fight to appoint his successor. A Treasury representative said in a statement: ‘We appreciate Mr. Kim’s service to the World Bank,’ adding that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin ‘looks forward to working with his fellow governors in selecting a new lead’…” (Zumbrun, 1/7).

Washington Post: World Bank chief Jim Kim to leave post on Feb. 1, sparking potential succession battle
“… ‘It has been a great honor to serve as president of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime,’ Kim said in a statement. ‘The work of the World Bank Group is more important now than ever as the aspirations of the poor rise all over the world, and problems like climate change, pandemics, famine, and refugees continue to grow in both their scale and complexity’…” (Whalen/Lynch, 1/7).

Additional coverage of Kim’s resignation is available from Associated Press, Al Jazeera, CNN, Financial Times, and Quartz.

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DRC Ebola Outbreak Reaches 625 Total Cases; Experts Discuss Current Containment Efforts, Including Experimental Vaccines, Treatments

CIDRAP News: Ebola outbreak continues to grow in multiple DRC sites
“Over the weekend and through [Monday], the ministry of health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) recorded 16 new Ebola cases from towns and cities across North Kivu and Ituri provinces, including Butembo (6 cases), Katwa (5), Oicha (2), and one each in Mabalako, Kyondo, and Kalunguta. The outbreak now stands at 625 cases, of which 577 are confirmed and 48 are probable. A total of 377 deaths have been recorded, and 101 suspected cases are still under investigation…” (Soucheray, 1/7).

MedPage Today: Ebola in the DRC: Will New Tx Bring Hope in the New Year?
“…In this exclusive MedPage Today video, two infectious disease experts — Peter Hotez, MD, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Aneesh Mehta, MD, of Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta — discuss current efforts to contain the outbreak through vaccination, as well as hope for new therapeutics currently being studied more carefully in clinical trials. Hotez and Mehta also address the problem of civil unrest disrupting disease prevention and treatment…” (Walker, 1/7).

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Venezuela's Health Care System In Crisis, Collapsing, Experts, Patients Say

The Guardian: Venezuela crisis takes deadly toll on buckling health system
“…[Activists say] at least 25 children … have died since late 2016 because of the serratia marcescens bacterium — fatalities they blame on a ‘perfect storm’ of unhygienic, resource-starved hospitals that lack even soap to clean their wards, malnourished patients who are susceptible to infection, and chronic shortages of antibiotics. [These deaths provide] a chilling snapshot of a health care system experts warn is heading for total collapse. … Even as Venezuela disintegrates, state media continue to paint a rosy picture of the country’s health service…” (Phillips et al., 1/6).

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Rift Valley Fever In Pregnant Women Could Severely Harm Fetuses, Research Shows

New York Times: A Virus Even More Dangerous Than Zika to Pregnant Woman
“The mosquito-borne virus that causes Rift Valley fever may severely injure human fetuses if contracted by mothers during pregnancy, according to new research. … Results showed that the virus may be even more damaging to fetuses than the Zika virus, which set off a global crisis in 2015 and left thousands of babies in Central America and South America with severe birth defects. … Two cases of infected fetuses have been documented. One infant was born with an enlarged liver and spleen, among other symptoms; the other died within a week. Because the disease can be asymptomatic in pregnant women, many more cases of abnormalities and stillbirths may have been misidentified…” (Baumgaertner, 1/7).

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More News In Global Health

Homeland Preparedness News: Increasing severity of pandemic trends spurred by urbanization, air travel (Galford, 1/4).

New York Times: China’s Health Care Crisis (Kessel, 1/7).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Barred from bathing and banished from home — period taboos around the world (Banerji, 1/4).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: How forgotten local plants could ease malnutrition in East Timor (Ferrie, 1/8).

UPI: New Ebola-like virus discovered in a bat in China (Dyson, 1/7).

VOA News: UNHCR Launches $430M Plan for CAR Refugees (Kindzeka, 1/7).

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Editorials and Opinions

NYT Opinion Piece Examines Benefits, Risks Of Using Wolbachia-Infected Mosquitoes To Reduce Transmission Of Mosquito-Borne Diseases

New York Times: It Takes a Mosquito to Fight a Mosquito
Tina Rosenberg, co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network

“…For much of the world, a mosquito bite can mean serious illness or death from malaria, yellow fever, chikungunya, Zika, and dengue. … But now there’s a new response: We can create good mosquitoes — those infected with bacteria that block or greatly reduce transmission of disease — and use them to vanquish the bad ones. … [I]n 2011, the World Mosquito Program at Monash University in Melbourne began releasing good mosquitoes in [Townsville, Australia, where dengue is not endemic but it had been possible to catch it when travelers from other countries imported the virus.] … Imported cases of dengue kept rising in Townsville during the mosquito releases. But local transmission of dengue virtually stopped. … What’s a good mosquito? It’s one infected with bacteria called Wolbachia. … Researchers in a variety of locales enduring tropical diseases are testing several ways to employ Wolbachia. The World Mosquito Program aims to replace the local mosquito population with a Wolbachia-infected population, the infected mosquitoes forming a larger and larger proportion of the total with each generation. … The program’s strategy of replacing bad mosquitoes with good ones has some disadvantages as well. … Any time we play God with nature, we need to worry about the consequences…” (1/8).

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Health Experts, Leaders Should Prioritize, Incentivize Development Of Vaccines For Poverty-Associated Infectious Diseases

STAT: ‘Neglected diseases’ are anything but neglected by the billion-plus people living with them
Jerome Kim, director general of the International Vaccine Institute

“…What should be done to remedy [the] systematic failure [of addressing neglected tropical diseases], including the failure to promptly develop vaccines, the most cost-effective approach to infectious diseases and an essential part of the comprehensive solution to these diseases? … There isn’t consensus on how to prioritize work against [poverty-associated infectious diseases (PAID)]. … If these diseases affected developed countries, incentives would exist for companies to develop new diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines. There would be funding to understand the critical elements of disease transmission and to implement effective prevention and control programs. … Neglected diseases should not be victims. They must find a voice to attract leadership, advocacy, and funding … One useful strategy would be to prioritize and incentivize the development of vaccines for diseases that are a bigger problem in developing countries but that could also be useful in high-income countries. Health policy experts, politicians, CEOs, philanthropists, and others must step up and be the voice of the neglected. We know the problem and we have the solution in our hearts, our minds, and our wallets” (1/4).

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7 Challenges, Opportunities Of Data Collaboratives In Helping To Achieve SDGs

Devex: Opinion: The promises — and challenges — of data collaboratives for the SDGs
Paula Hidalgo-Sanchis, manager at Pulse Lab Kampala, and Stefaan G. Verhulst, co-founder and chief research and development officer of The GovLab at New York University

“As the road to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals becomes more complex and challenging, policymakers around the world need both new solutions and new ways to become more innovative. This includes better policy and program design based on evidence to solve problems at scale. The use of big data — the vast majority of which is collected, processed, and analyzed by the private sector — is key. … Research suggests that data collaboratives offer tremendous potential when implemented strategically under the appropriate policy and ethical frameworks. Nonetheless, this remains a nascent field, and we have summarized some of the barriers that continue to confront data collaboratives, with an eye toward ultimately proposing solutions to make them more effective, scalable, sustainable, and responsible. Here are seven challenges: 1. Lack of public awareness on the potential … 2. Absence of trust … 3. Private sector uncertainties … 4. Limited capacity … 5. Transaction costs … 6. Scaling challenges … 7. Limited community of practice and expertise…” (1/7).

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Machine Learning Could Improve Global Access To, Management Of Health

WIRED: Machine learning can fix how we manage health on a global scale
Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

“Harnessing machine learning to improve health is a major ambition for both medical practitioners and the health care industry. If the two can join forces on a global scale in 2019, with the right investment and the right approach, [artificial intelligence (AI)] could propel a revolution to democratize global health and to leapfrog access to health services in low- and middle-income countries. … Low- and middle-income country partners must lead the way in shaping the technological innovations which could make the greatest difference to health among their own populations. … And crucially, rigorous evaluation and scrutiny must be applied to AI solutions to ensure the quality and safety standards are in place and that the shift in personalizing health care for all is an unquestioned force for good. With that in mind, public-private partnerships will be strengthened in 2019 to create a suite of robust, effective, and equitable digital solutions. These will harness the power of AI to democratize patient power and people’s ability to manage their own health, including in low- and middle-income countries” (1/4).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

World Failed To Protect Children Living In Conflict In 2018, UNICEF Says

UNICEF: World has failed to protect children in conflict in 2018: UNICEF
“The futures of millions of children living in countries affected by armed conflict are at risk, as warring parties continue to commit grave violations against children, and world leaders fail to hold perpetrators accountable — UNICEF said … UNICEF calls on all warring parties to abide by their obligations under international law to immediately end violations against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, and water infrastructure. UNICEF also calls on states with influence over parties to conflict to use that influence to protect children…” (12/28).

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WHO Publishes Feature Story On Polio Eradication Efforts In Afghanistan, Pakistan

WHO: Pakistan and Afghanistan: the final wild poliovirus bastion
“As recently as 30 years ago, wild poliovirus paralyzed more than 350,000 children in more than 125 countries every year. Today, the virus has been beaten back to less than 30 reported cases in 2018 in just two countries — Afghanistan and Pakistan — and the world stands on the cusp of an unprecedented public health success: the global eradication of a human disease for only the second time in history…” (1/4).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. President Signs Global Health Innovation Act Of 2017 Into Law

White House: Bill Announcement
“On Thursday, January 3, 2019, the President signed into law: H.R. 1660, the ‘Global Health Innovation Act of 2017,’ which requires the United States Agency for International Development to report to the Congress on the development and use of global health innovations in its programs…” (1/3)

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