KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Wall Street Journal Examines U.S. Aid Cuts To Central American Nations, Potential Impacts On Migration

Wall Street Journal: Central American Migrants Are ‘Voting With Their Feet’ Despite U.S. Threats
“President Trump’s government recently announced … aid cuts to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador — the Northern Triangle — in a bid to pressure them to slow the flow of migrants to the U.S. But the plan faces a grim economic reality: aid isn’t nearly as vital as the billions of dollars in remittances sent home by migrants in the U.S. … While the U.S. will continue to fund some health, human rights, and pro-democracy initiatives in the Northern Triangle, most violence-prevention and development aid will be cut, including to farmers…” (Whelan, 7/19).

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Language On SRHR, Drug Development Costs Remain Unresolved In U.N. Draft UHC Declaration

Health Policy Watch: Drug R&D, Sexual & Reproductive Health Scrutinized In Draft UHC Declaration
“Disclosure of costs for drug research and development (R&D) and ‘alternative financing mechanisms’ for new health products remain outstanding points to be resolved by countries in finalizing a draft United Nations General Assembly political declaration on universal health coverage (UHC). A final draft of the declaration had been expected [last] week, but as of Friday afternoon, language on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and drug development issues appeared to be unresolved in the draft text, obtained by Health Policy Watch. … [The SRHR] language has been controversial in light of opposition by the U.S. as well as some developing countries to any references to sexual or reproductive health that could imply access to abortion. Additionally, the Group of 77 (G77), a coalition of 134 developing nations, have experienced sharp differences of opinion on both access to abortion and contraception, and members have decided not to vote as a bloc on the issue, sources said…” (Branigan, 7/19).

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Protection Of Women's Economic, Social Rights Linked To Healthier Populations, Study Shows

The Telegraph: Protecting women’s rights is linked to a healthier population, research finds
“…A study in the BMJ Open journal found that protecting women’s rights leads to faster development and better health outcomes for men and women in both developing and developed countries. The study, based on data from 162 countries between 2004 and 2010, found that vaccination rates, reproductive health, death rates, life expectancy, and disease prevention rates were consistently better than average in countries where women’s rights were highly respected. This has a positive knock-on effect on development, the report says, because healthy people are better able to participate in the economy…” (Newey, 7/18).

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U.N. Urges Calm, More Support After DRC Ebola Outbreak Declared International Public Health Emergency

STAT: What the Ebola emergency means, what it doesn’t mean, and what’s next
“…The idea was to raise awareness of the issue at higher levels within governments around the world; that is what PHEICs are intended to do. That, it’s hoped, is what will result from declaring the North Kivu-Ituri Ebola outbreak a PHEIC — that governments around the world, with their purses and emergency response expertise, will start paying more attention to this long-running crisis” (Branswell, 7/19).

U.N. News: Don’t panic, support DR Congo in fight against deadly Ebola virus, U.N. health agency urges
“Ebola virus is just one challenge among many facing communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, reiterating an appeal for the international community to show support and solidarity for its people. Speaking in Geneva, spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris noted that measles has already killed more people this year than the Ebola outbreak, which began last August…” (7/19).

Xinhua News: A.U. to deploy more health care experts to tackle Ebola crisis
“The African Union (A.U.) on Saturday said it will deploy more health care experts to respond to the Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). … According to the 55-member pan-African bloc, the decision to increase the number of volunteers is in response to the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO), categorizing the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)…” (7/20).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak and response is available from Al Jazeera (2), Associated Press, Bloomberg, Bloomberg/Washington Post, The BMJ, CIDRAP News, Health Policy Watch, Los Angeles Times, Reuters, The Telegraph (2), and World Politics Review.

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Countries Must Work Together To Prevent Large Disease Outbreaks, Treat Pandemic Threats As Terrorism, Outgoing U.K. Medical Chief Says In Final Report

BBC News: Medical chief calls for global health effort
“Countries must work together to tackle global health risks, England’s outgoing chief medical officer has said. In her final annual report, Prof. Dame Sally Davies said focusing on domestic issues could risk failing to control global threats such as Ebola…” (7/22).

The Telegraph: Killer global health threats should be treated like terrorism, says Chief Medical Officer
“…In her final report before stepping down to become the first female Master of Trinity College Cambridge, Dame Sally Davies said the U.K. must adopt a similar approach to global health as does with its counter-terrorism (CONTEST) strategy. The strategy brings together intelligence organizations from across the world to ‘prevent, pursue, protect, and prepare’ for a terrorist attack and ensures countries act swiftly together in the event of an atrocity…” (Knapton/Newey, 7/22).

The Telegraph: U.K.’s greatest health threats will come from abroad, England’s top doctor warns
“…In the last five years the proportion of official development assistance spent by the Department for International Development (DFID) has shrunk. And Professor Dame Sally warns this could lead to a less coherent and effective approach unless clear targets are set. ‘DFID does an amazing job,’ she said. ‘But what we’ve started to do more over the last few years is spend U.K. aid from other departments. They do a decent job … but we need to have a shared global health strategy with shared objectives that go through a number of government departments for investments to be enduring’…” (Newey, 7/22).

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Progress Toward Ending AIDS Epidemic Slowing, More Political Will Needed, UNAIDS Report Says

Health Policy Watch: New HIV Infections Declining, But So Is Funding To Combat The Disease
“A new UNAIDS report found that while new HIV infections have declined globally since 2010, the rate of progress has slowed, with some regions showing increases in new infections. Available resources for HIV have also dropped by US$ 1 billion in 2018, marking the first time global HIV funding declined since 2000…” (Branigan, 7/16).

VOA News: Progress Toward Ending HIV/AIDS Epidemic Is Receding
“…The joint U.N. program on HIV/AIDS, known as UNAIDS, warns the pace of progress in reducing new HIV infections is slowing because nations lack the political will needed to end this scourge. … UNAIDS Acting Executive Director Gunilla Carlsson says the report for the first time shows key populations and their sexual partners account for more than half of all new HIV infections. … She tells VOA these key populations suffer from stigma and discrimination. Consequently, she says they are not being reached at the scale needed to stop transmission of HIV…” (Schlein, 7/20).

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Latin American Migrant Health Discussed At International Conference On HIV Science In Mexico City

Agence France-Presse: As AIDS conference opens in Mexico, migrants are a focus
“The spread of HIV as a serious aspect of Latin America’s migration crisis — whether through Venezuelans forced to emigrate to obtain medicine or Central American migrants unaware they carry the virus — will be a focus of the world AIDS conference [that opened] Sunday in Mexico City. Some 6,000 scientists, physicians, activists, and government officials are due to learn about the latest in treatments and research and discuss the human and social costs of AIDS and HIV…” (7/21).

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More News In Global Health

Agence France-Presse: One-stop clinics, a rare lifesaver for Zimbabwe’s sick (Jongwe, 7/20).

Al Jazeera: ‘Toxic stress’: Addressing mental health needs in Sierra Leone (Werner/Acland, 7/21).

Devex: Could permagardens help solve refugee malnutrition? (Root, 7/22).

Global Health NOW: A Neglected Disease, A Lab Researcher, And Real Life (Silberner, 7/11).

The Guardian: Anti-extremism software to be used to tackle vaccine disinformation (Quinn, 7/21).

The Guardian: Millions face hardship as Zimbabwe comes close to ‘meltdown’ (Burke/Chingono, 7/21).

Health Policy Watch: Two-Thirds Of People In Low & Middle-Income Countries With Hypertension Don’t Get Treatment (Saez, 7/19).

Inter Press Service: Will a Global Fund Help Deliver U.N.’s Development Agenda? (Deen, 7/19).

New Humanitarian: Aid access and aid worker safety: Delivering help in a war zone (7/19).

NPR: Does Facebook Need A Humanitarian Partner For Its New Digital Currency? (Gharib, 7/19).

NPR: Study: Sugar Rules The World And Ruins Teeth (Whitehead, 7/19).

SciDev.Net: Q&A: WHO’s chief scientist rises above her father’s legacy (Bhattacharya, 7/19).

U.N. News: Top U.N. sustainable development forum closes with galvanized effort toward ’empowerment, inclusiveness and equality’ (7/19).

The Wire: Spike in Polio Cases Raises Questions on Pakistan’s Vaccine Reporting (Ahmad/Mackenzie, 7/22).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Discuss Ebola In DRC, WHO's PHEIC Declaration

The Conversation: Why declaring Ebola a public health emergency isn’t a silver bullet
Yap Boum, professor in the faculty of Medicine at Mbarara University of Science and Technology and regional representative for Epicenter Africa

“…[T]he decision [to declare Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)] is not a silver bullet. The outbreak of a deadly disease within a conflict zone — and now in a major city — cannot be solved with a technical solution, such as more funding. … The Public Health Emergency of International Concern announcement is a call to the international community for action. But extra funds won’t be enough. The issue of unrest in North Kivu needs to be solved as it remains one of the major catalysts of this outbreak. Solving the outbreak requires a peaceful environment, wherein the community trusts the Ebola response team, and therefore, increase its engagement. Without a higher community awareness and engagement, it is difficult to see the end of Ebola outbreak in the DRC” (7/19).

The Conversation: Ebola epidemic officially declared a global health emergency
Mark Eccleston-Turner, lecturer of law at Keele University

“…The PHEIC declaration does not give WHO access to additional funding, but it can act as a call to the international community. This can mobilize political, financial, and technical support … Given the complex security and political matters affecting the response in the DRC, this declaration may motivate countries to bring the matter to other international forums. While not a requirement for action in U.N. bodies, the declaration of a PHEIC would be a clear signal from the world’s global health body that immediate and significant support is needed. The international community must now step up and provide WHO with the resources it needs to bring this outbreak under control as soon as possible. … Now that a declaration has been made, it is important that member states respond appropriately. This means giving WHO the resources it needs to bring the outbreak under control and respecting the recommendations Dr. Tedros has put in place” (7/19).

USA TODAY: Trump tweeted heartlessly about Ebola in 2014. He’s ill-equipped to handle 2019 outbreak.
Gabriel Schoenfeld, senior fellow at the Niskanen Center, member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors, and adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign

“…We have been here before. In 2014, a major outbreak of [Ebola] occurred in the West African nation of Guinea and rapidly spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. … Although not much noticed at the time, and largely forgotten today, [Donald] Trump, already contemplating his presidential run, posted dozens of tweets in response to the outbreak. … Many of Trump’s tweets advocated shutting down entry into the United States … Some sought to undercut President Barack Obama’s decision to send U.S. forces to West Africa … Some were directed at the American medical personnel who volunteered to travel to Africa to help contain the outbreak … Some tried to undermine the credibility of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention … Some revealed Trump’s well-known germaphobia … Most aimed to denigrate [President] Obama … With issues touching on race, immigration, and germs, the outbreak of Ebola in Congo could play seamlessly into his repertoire of xenophobic demagoguery. The only silver lining, if that is what it is, is that Donald Trump’s … tweets from the 2014 outbreak leave us amply forewarned about how our commander in chief is likely to behave” (7/22).

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G20 Countries Should Undergo Joint External Evaluation To Be Better Prepared For Epidemics, Opinion Piece Says

Inter Press Service: Here’s How the World Can Be Better Prepared to Handle Epidemics
Ifeanyi Nsofor, medical doctor, CEO of EpiAFRIC, and director of policy and advocacy for Nigeria Health Watch

“The 2019 G20 Summit was held recently in Osaka, Japan. The Summit ended with the ‘G20 Osaka Leaders’ Declaration,’ which identifies health as a prerequisite for sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and the leaders committed to various efforts to improve epidemic preparedness. These efforts are commendable, but the G20, comprised of 19 countries and the European Union with economies that represent more than 80 percent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), also must do more to lead by example in epidemic preparedness by ensuring they all have a ReadyScore. … To be assigned a ReadyScore, countries should undergo a Joint External Evaluation (JEE) which is a voluntary, collaborative, multisectoral process to assess country capacities to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to public health risks whether occurring naturally or due to deliberate or accidental events. … So, what needs to happen next? First, the G20 should work with the World Health Organization and other partners to conduct JEE to make our world safer. … Second, universal health coverage and global health security must both be addressed together. … Third, G20 countries can invest in networks of reference and specialized laboratories as part of disaster prevention. … G20 countries should lead by example and get a ReadyScore by being open for joint external evaluations and meet all Osaka Leaders’ global health commitments. If other countries follow suit, then the world would move closer to being better prepared to handle epidemics” (7/19).

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Some Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Represent More Than Strictly Medical Challenge

Washington Post: The vaccine challenge isn’t just about getting shots
Editorial Board

“Ebola, measles, and polio can all be prevented with vaccines that provide high degrees of immunity. Yet outbreaks of all three rumble on in different places, causing illness and death. While the technology of vaccines can always be improved, serious setbacks in fighting these diseases have origins in something else: mistrust, misinformation, violence, poverty, and failing health systems. None of these are strictly biomedical factors, but all of them are making the health situation worse. … New data published [last] week by the WHO and UNICEF shows that global vaccination rates have flatlined at about 86 percent for three doses of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis and one dose of the measles vaccine. The WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, wrote in the Financial Times that 20 million children worldwide — more than 1 in 10 — are not getting the vaccines they need, not because their parents are spooked by social media but because they simply lack access to the vaccines. He pointed out that, for many children, the real culprits are not social media trolls but war, unstable governments, poverty, and weak health care systems. None of these diseases is any longer a strictly medical problem. These are challenges of war, mistrust, and misinformation, and those factors must be fought just as vigorously” (7/19).

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Essential Cancer Medicines Must Be More Affordable

Financial Times: Time to make essential cancer drugs more affordable
James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, and Ellen ‘t Hoen, first director of the Medicines Patent Pool and director of Medicines Law & Policy

“…[T]he WHO added 12 medicines for five cancer treatments to its list [of essential medicines], including several that are new and highly priced. … This presents challenges for government health care budgets because their use can potentially divert resources from more cost-effective therapies. … We urge the WHO to develop a second list of medicines — those that would be labelled ‘essential’ if they were available at affordable prices. … Our plea for making these new essential cancer medicines affordable in the developing world is bound to spark concern that the low prices will deter research and development spending for new drugs. … These concerns over innovation incentives do not require us to tolerate high prices and unequal access. They could be addressed through other measures that delink R&D spending from drug prices … We also call on the WHO to change its approach to drugs that treat metastatic cancer … [A]s first line treatments improve and extend lives, that creates a need for treatment for cancer that has metastasized” (7/21).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

New Data Show 39% Of Americans See Ebola As Severe Threat To Public Health Globally

YouGov: Ebola is seen as the most severe threat to global health
Jamie Ballard, data journalist at YouGov, discusses research from YouGov that finds that 39% of Americans see Ebola as a severe threat to public health outside the U.S., and 35% say measles poses a severe threat as well (7/19).

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IAS Conference On HIV Science Opens in Mexico City

IAS 2019. 10th IAS Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2019)
The 10th IAS Conference on HIV Science is being held in Mexico City, Mexico, July 21-24. This biennial conference will address advances in basic, clinical, and operational HIV research, as well as the applications of the science for policy and practice. More information and the latest releases from the conference are available on the IAS 2019 website (7/22).

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From the U.S. Government

NIH Publishes Largest Genomic Study Of Type 2 Diabetes In Sub-Saharan African Populations; Findings Demonstrate Importance Of Studying All Populations

National Institutes of Health: NIH publishes the largest genomic study on type 2 diabetes in sub-Saharan African populations
“National Institute of Health researchers have reported the largest genomic study of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in sub-Saharan Africans, with data from more than 5,000 individuals from Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya. Researchers confirmed known genomic variants and identified a novel gene ZRANB3, which may influence susceptibility to the disease in sub-Saharan African populations. The gene could also influence the development of T2D in other populations and inform further research. … The findings replicate results for many of the variants which other research studies have already implicated in T2D in mostly European ancestry populations. … ‘The findings of this study further demonstrate why it is important to study all human populations. By doing so, we have the opportunity to make novel discoveries that will not only help the specific population but also people all around the globe,’ said Dr. Charles Rotimi, senior author of the paper…” (7/19).

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From KFF

KFF Releases U.S. Global Health Legislation Tracker

Kaiser Family Foundation: U.S. Global Health Legislation Tracker
This tracker provides a listing of global health-related legislation introduced in the 116th Congress, including the bill title, sponsor(s), current status, and topic, as well as a short description of its global health-related provisions. Currently, there are more than 30 pieces of legislation related to global health. They address topics ranging from global health security to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and reproductive health. The tracker will be updated as needed (7/22).

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