Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump Administration To Withhold Funding From UNFPA For 3rd Year Under Kemp-Kasten Determination

CNN: U.S. aid cuts to U.N. agency will hurt vulnerable women and children, critics say
“The Trump administration will withhold funds from the United Nations agency focused on reproductive and maternal health care for a third consecutive year, though critics and lawmakers say the decision will hurt vulnerable women and children, undermine U.S. interests, and is not based on evidence. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo authorized the move to cut $32.5 million in funding to the agency for its core operations addressing maternal death, female genital mutilation, child marriage, and gender-based violence, and meeting family planning needs. Pompeo’s decision also denies the U.N. Population Fund, known as UNFPA, any U.S. funding for emergency humanitarian operations in places such as Venezuela and Syria — support that has amounted to as much as $36 million in previous administrations. … [A] State Department spokesperson said that the funding for UNFPA would be transferred to the U.S. Agency for International Development ‘to support family planning, maternal, and reproductive health activities’…” (Gaouette, 7/15).

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U.S. Regulation Of Abortion Pills Out Of Step With WHO Essential Medicines List, Advocates Say

Pacific Standard: An Update on Abortion Pills From the World Health Organization Undermines How the U.S. Regulates Them
“Abortion pills should be widely available and affordable, and don’t need to be dispensed by highly trained specialists or in specialty facilities, according to a World Health Organization update published last week. … The WHO has considered mifepristone and misoprostol ‘essential medicines’ since 2005, but in the recent update, WHO experts decided that they had enough scientific evidence to strike the caveat saying the medications require ‘close medical supervision.’ The change puts the United States’ strict regulations around abortion pills even further out of step with international guidelines, activists and scientists say. The WHO update isn’t legally binding, but many countries take the WHO essential medicines list seriously, so it may make mifepristone and misoprostol more readily available worldwide. In the U.S., however, not much is expected to change…” (Diep, 7/15).

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Bipartisan Trio Of U.S. Senators Introduce Resolution Opposing Gene Editing Of Embryos, Calling For International Guidelines

STAT: Following ‘CRISPR babies’ scandal, senators call for international gene editing guidelines
“A bipartisan trio of senators on Monday introduced a resolution underscoring their opposition to the experiments last year in China that led to the birth of the world’s first genome-edited babies. The resolution from Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) also reiterated support for international groups working to produce guidelines for the clinical use of germline editing … If passed, the resolution would not change U.S. law; editing embryos with the purpose of creating children is already illegal in the United States. But the action by the senators stands out, since some members of Congress have recently expressed some openness to lifting the ban on editing embryos used to start pregnancies…” (Joseph, 7/15).

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More Funding, Political Will Needed To Fill Gaps, Slow 'Worrying Increases' In New HIV Infections, UNAIDS Report Says

Business Day: UNAIDS sounds warning over funding for HIV/AIDS programs
“The U.N. has issued a stark warning that a deepening funding gap threatens global progress towards ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which affected 37.9 million people in 2018. … After years of steadily increasing global resources, in 2018 the funding available for combating HIV/AIDS declined significantly as … investments failed to keep pace with inflation, according to a report released on Tuesday by the U.N. joint agency on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS…” (Kahn, 7/16).

Reuters: U.N. wants more urgency in AIDS fight as gains and funding fade
“The global fight against AIDS is stalling due to lower investment, marginalized communities missing vital health services, and new HIV infections rising in some parts, the United Nations warned on Tuesday. … Progress in some countries has been ‘impressive,’ the U.N. body’s report said, but others are seeing rising numbers of HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths. It noted ‘worrying increases’ in new infections in eastern Europe and central Asia, where HIV cases rose by 29%, as well as in the Middle East, North Africa, and Latin America. … Global funding for the AIDS fight dropped off significantly in 2018 — by nearly $1 billion … Around $19 billion was available for the AIDS response in 2018, UNAIDS said — falling $7.2 billion short of the total $26.2 billion it says is needed by 2020…” (Kelland, 7/16).

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Medical, Development Experts Worry Canada Will Not Increase Global Fund Pledge In Upcoming Replenishment

Canadian Press/Toronto Star: Global concern grows over Canada’s funding of fight against AIDS, TB, malaria
“International concern is growing in medical and development circles that the Trudeau government is about to step back from its much-publicized global leadership on eradicating AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. In 2016, Trudeau announced with fanfare that Canada was contributing $804 million to the Global Fund, a 24 percent increase to the international organization that aims to curb the three afflictions that are now widely seen as preventable with the proper amount of medical and financial support. … But development officials in several organizations say they believe the government is simply planning to announce a repeat of 2016’s funding with no increase, which would be a first for Canada…” (Blanchfield, 7/15).

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U.N. Leaders Call For Additional International Support For DRC Ebola Response After Case Detected In Border City; U.K. Urges Other Governments To Step Up As U.S., E.U. Promise Increased Contributions

Associated Press: The Latest: U.S., E.U. promise support to tackle Ebola
“The top U.S. diplomat in Geneva says the United States will ‘provide more in the coming months’ to help respond to the Ebola outbreak, while the European Union ambassador says the bloc will examine possibilities to scale up its response. U.S. Charge d’Affaires Mark Cassayre also told a U.N. conference on Ebola Monday that the United States is calling on member states to increase their contributions to the response, which the World Health Organization says is underfunded. E.U. Ambassador Walter Stevens noted that the bloc has provided some $20 million in support since last year, plus in-kind and logistical support, and ‘will look into possibilities to scale up the response’…” (7/15).

New York Times: Ebola Outbreak Reaches Major City in Congo, Renewing Calls for Emergency Order
“… ‘The identification of the case in Goma could potentially be a game-changer in this epidemic,’ said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, speaking on Monday in Geneva at a high-level United Nations meeting about the outbreak. He called Goma ‘a gateway to the region and the world.’ Because of the Goma case, Dr. Tedros said he would once again convene a WHO committee to decide whether it is time to declare the epidemic a ‘public health emergency of international concern,’ which could draw more international help to the region. This would be the fourth meeting of the committee, which has declined three times to declare an emergency and has drawn sharp criticism from many public health experts…” (Grady, 7/15).

Reuters: Britain tells Canada and France to pull their weight on Ebola
“Britain’s International Development Minister Rory Stewart called on France and Canada on Monday to offer more help in tackling the Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo. Stewart, who visited the Ebola zone earlier this month, told a U.N. meeting that Britain had donated $45 million towards a previous Ebola outbreak and the current one, and that he had authorized a further $63 million of British spending. … The United States, Britain, and Germany had all donated generously, but other members of the G7 group of countries needed to do more, Stewart said…” (Miles, 7/15).

U.N. News: ‘We won’t get to zero cases of Ebola without a big scale-up in funding,’ U.N. relief chief warns
“Deadly attacks on health workers in Ebola-hit areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), including one at the weekend that left two dead, are an indication that combating the disease outbreak will require far greater international support, U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said on Monday. Speaking in Geneva, Mr. Lowcock, the U.N. emergency relief coordinator, insisted on the need to ‘be honest with ourselves’ on tackling the hemorrhagic disease … unless there’s a big scale-up in the response, we’re unlikely to be successful in getting to zero cases.’ … Since the latest Ebola outbreak was officially declared in the eastern DRC provinces of North Kivu and Ituri last August, there have been more than 2,400 confirmed and probable cases and 1,647 deaths, according to latest data from the country’s authorities…” (7/15).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak and response is available from Al Jazeera, Becker’s Hospital Review, CNN, Deutsche Welle, Devex (2), Reuters (2), SciDev.Net, Science Speaks, The Telegraph, VOA News, and Xinhua News.

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'Alarming' Lack Of Funding For Global Humanitarian Crises, Jan Egeland Says

The Guardian: ‘Alarming’ shortfall in foreign aid for world’s biggest crises
“The head of one of the world’s leading aid agencies has issued a stark warning over the ‘alarming lack of funding’ for global humanitarian crises. Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, noted that halfway through the current funding year, humanitarian organizations had received less than a third of money — 27% — needed to provide relief to people affected by crises worldwide. ‘The current lack of funding is alarming. Despite increasing needs, substantially less money is available for humanitarian assistance compared with the same period last year,’ he said. … ‘It is a question of priorities. The world’s total military expenditure has increased to a whopping $1.8tn. The cost of closing the humanitarian funding gap and providing people with basic support equals to just about 1% of this,’ said Egeland…” (Beaumont, 7/16).

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Childhood Vaccine Coverage Stagnates At 86%, Meaning 20M Children Miss Out On Routine Vaccinations, WHO/UNICEF Data Show

The Telegraph: Nearly 20 million children missing out on routine vaccines, U.N. warns
“At least 20 million children worldwide missed out on lifesaving vaccinations last year due to a combination of conflict, lack of access, and complacency, the United Nations has warned. Global coverage for childhood vaccines including diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) and measles has stagnated at roughly 86 percent since 2010, well below the 95 percent required to avert outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. According to data from UNICEF and the World Health Organization, vulnerable children living in remote rural areas, urban slums, and unstable regions are disproportionately affected by gaps in coverage…” (Newey, 7/15).

Additional coverage of the U.N. report on vaccination coverage is available from Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The Hill, Reuters, SciDev.Net, U.N. News, and Washington Times.

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More Than 820M People Worldwide Hungry, Obesity Rates Rising, U.N. State Of Food Security And Nutrition Report Says

VOA News: U.N.: Global Hunger Stable, But Obesity on Rise
“The United Nations says more than 820 million people around the world are hungry, while at same time, obesity is hitting record levels. A report released Monday by five U.N. agencies dealing with food, nutrition, and health says that while hunger levels have mostly stabilized, more people around the world are anxious about where their family’s next meal will come from. … [World Food Programme Executive Director David] Beasley said the problem of world hunger is solvable, but is not achievable without ending war and conflicts, which consume a huge portion of the global economy that could be used for development. … For the first time, the U.N. agencies were able to gather data on world obesity rates, which are skyrocketing…” (Besheer, 7/15).

Additional coverage of the State of the Food Security and Nutrition in the World report is available from Agence France-Presse, Al Jazeera, Devex, The Guardian, Thomson Reuters Foundation, U.N. News, and Xinhua News.

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More News In Global Health

Devex: Debunking cleft palate myths with community help (Ravelo, 7/16).

Inter Press Service: A Relentless Battle Against Poverty & Hunger in World’s Most Populous Region (Deen, 7/15)

New York Times: Polio Cases Surge in Pakistan and Afghanistan (McNeil, 7/15).

Reuters: New contraceptive vaginal ring prevents pregnancy for a year, gives women more control (Carroll, 7/15).

STAT: HIV’s genetic code, extracted from a nub of tissue, adds to evidence of virus’ emergence in humans a century ago (Branswell, 7/16).

Times of Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan: USAID, Health Ministry agree on further cooperation in TB control (7/16).

Xinhua News: Philippines declares “national alert” in selected regions with rapidly increasing dengue cases (7/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Piece Presents 5 Steps To More Effectively Address DRC Ebola Outbreak

The Guardian: The response to DRC’s Ebola crisis isn’t working. Here’s what we need to do
David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee

“It is almost a year since an Ebola outbreak was formally declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s northeastern provinces of Ituri and North Kivu. … But the DRC outbreak isn’t just notable because of its length and death toll. This is the first Ebola crisis in an active conflict zone — with dire consequences for the effort to eradicate the disease. … Today in Geneva there is a vital opportunity for such a reset as the U.N.’s leadership meets to evaluate the response strategy. Turning the tide on the outbreak and preventing it from spreading to other conflict zones such as South Sudan requires five steps. First, we need to place community trust at the heart of the response. … Second, there needs to be a different approach to security. … Third, clear and empowered leadership is critical. … Fourth, every actor in the response needs to focus on their area of expertise. … Fifth, the response should spend well, not just spend more. … Containing the ongoing DRC Ebola outbreak won’t be straightforward — operating in humanitarian emergencies rarely is. But these five steps, which we have learned the hard way from working in conflict environments, give us a chance to stop the spread of this disease before it goes too much further (7/16).

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Improving Access To Vaccines Vital To Increase Childhood Immunization Coverage, WHO DG Says

Financial Times: Anti-vaxxers distract from a more serious threat
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization

“If everything you knew about vaccines came from social media, you could be forgiven for thinking global immunization rates are collapsing under a torrent of misinformation from anti-vaccine activists sowing seeds of doubt in the minds of parents. … Myths and misinformation about vaccines are a serious threat that the World Health Organization is committed to countering. But that’s only part of the challenge. The global vaccine crisis is not that rates are falling everywhere, it’s that they have stubbornly stalled. New data published on Monday by the WHO and UNICEF show that global vaccination rates have flatlined at around 86 percent for the past decade. … [C]lose to 20m children worldwide — more than one in 10 — are not getting the vaccines they need. For the most part, that’s not because their parents are being spooked by social media trolls. It’s because they simply can’t access vaccines. … But we must not let the vocal few who perpetuate misinformation distract us from addressing the main reasons why children are not vaccinated. That’s why WHO’s top priority is to support countries to achieve universal health coverage, so that everyone has access to essential health services” (7/15).

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Ending Hunger, Addressing Obesity Critical To Achieving SDG 2

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Opinion: Bolder actions are needed to eradicate hunger and fight obesity
José Graziano da Silva, director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

“Our food systems are distorted, and unless bolder actions are taken soon to fix them, humanity is at grave risk of increasing hunger, obesity, and diet-related illnesses. It is a stark warning, but one that must be heeded if all countries are to fulfill their commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal number 2 — eradicating hunger and all forms of malnutrition. … The 2019 edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report (SOFI) shows that while the percentage of people in the world who suffer from hunger has remained stable in the last three years, the number of hungry people is still slowly on the rise. More than 820 million people still do not have enough to eat on a daily basis. … At the same time, no region in the world is exempt from the growing pandemic of obesity. It has increased in all regions, particularly among school-age children and adults, and today there are more obese people than hungry people in the world. … Ending hunger is no longer our only big nutrition challenge. Fighting obesity is also fundamental for sustainable development” (7/15).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blueprint For Sexual And Reproductive Health, Rights, Justice Released, Endorsed By 80 Organizations

Multiple organizations: Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice
The Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice, endorsed by 80 organizations and centered on five principles, presents a “policy agenda to advance sexual and reproductive health in the United States and around the world.” According to the document, the “endorsing organizations are committed to a future where those in power will support, not restrict, our individual sexual and reproductive health and rights, a time when a fully supportive Congress and administration will work together to enact policies the Blueprint lays out” (July 2019).

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CFR Article Discusses Abortion Laws Around The World

Council on Foreign Relations: Abortion Law: Global Comparisons
Rachel B. Vogelstein, Douglas Dillon Senior Fellow and director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at CFR, and Rebecca Turkington, assistant director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at CFR, discuss abortion laws around the world, including in the U.S. (7/15).

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UNAIDS Releases 2019 Global AIDS Update

UNAIDS: UNAIDS calls for greater urgency as global gains slow and countries show mixed results towards 2020 HIV targets
“The pace of progress in reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to treatment, and ending AIDS-related deaths is slowing down according to a new report released today by UNAIDS. UNAIDS’ Global AIDS Update, Communities at the Centre, shows a mixed picture, with some countries making impressive gains while others are experiencing rises in new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths” (7/16).

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From the Kaiser Family Foundation

KFF, UNAIDS Release Annual Donor Government Funding For HIV Report

Kaiser Family Foundation: Donor Government Funding for HIV in Low- and Middle-Income Countries in 2018
The new report, produced as a partnership between the Kaiser Family Foundation and UNAIDS, provides the latest data available on donor funding disbursements based on data provided by governments. The analysis finds donor governments spent US$8 billion for HIV in 2018, similar to a decade ago. Since 2010, donor governments, other than the United States, significantly reduced their funding for HIV, which fell by more than US$1 billion in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, and with the competing aid demands of a global refugee crisis and other humanitarian challenges. Most of the decline was in bilateral support. These donors increased their support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over this period, but not by enough to offset a large drop in bilateral support. When factoring how the Global Fund divides its resources among the three diseases, and reduced funding for UNITAID, multilateral support for HIV has also fallen since 2010 (Kates/Wexler/Lief, 7/16).

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