KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Secretary Of State Pompeo Announces Commission On Unalienable Rights, Raising Concern Among Some Groups, Lawmakers

Associated Press: Trump administration reviews human rights’ role in U.S. policy
“The Trump administration said Monday that it will review the role of human rights in American foreign policy, appointing a commission expected to elevate concerns about religious freedom and abortion…” (Tucker, 7/8).

Deutsche Welle: U.S. sets up commission for human rights advice
“U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at the State Department on Monday, announced the creation of a new, 10-person commission to advise him on human rights issues. The Commission on Unalienable Rights will be led by Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, and staunch abortion opponent…” (7/8).

The Guardian: Trump administration to review ‘role of human rights in public policy’
“…The State Department downplayed concerns over the panel’s influence on women’s issues or gay rights, stating those were domestic issues and outside of the commission’s current purview. The Trump administration has, however, come under fire for reimposing and expanding restrictions on U.S. [global health] foreign aid to [international] groups that discuss or provide abortion services…” (Siddiqui, 7/8).

New York Times: New Human Rights Panel Raises Fears of a Narrowing U.S. Advocacy
“…The announcement, along with a blunt commentary by Mr. Pompeo that was published in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, raised worries among human rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers that Mr. Pompeo is moving to curtail State Department advocacy for some rights, particularly ones related to women’s health and reproduction and gay and transgender issues. Some House Democrats are pushing a measure that would block State Department funding from being used for the commission, which falls under the agency’s policy planning office…” (Wong/Sullivan, 7/8).

POLITICO: Mike Pompeo unveils panel to examine ‘unalienable rights’
“…House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel [D-N.Y.] said in a statement Monday that the new panel amounted to an end-run around established structures within the department, and touted an amendment in a House spending bill passed last month that would block funding for ‘this bizarre effort.’ He claimed that the group Pompeo had selected would ‘give preference to discriminatory ideologies that would narrow protections for women, including on reproductive rights; for members of the LGBTQI community; and for other minority groups,’ and he hit the secretary for providing little information regarding plans for the commission…” (Oprysko, 7/8).

Washington Post: State Department launches panel focused on human rights and natural law
“…Proponents of a reassessment say perceptions of what qualifies as a human right have evolved since the days when it took a gross abuse, such as a gulag or apartheid, to raise significant concern. Pompeo appeared to endorse that view, saying the commission will ask the most basic of questions. ‘What does it mean to say or claim that something is in fact a human right?’ he said. ‘How do we know or how do we determine whether that claim, that this or that is a human right? Is it true and therefore ought it to be honored?’ The commission is composed of experts, philosophers, and human rights activists from every political persuasion. Pompeo said their deliberations will be grounded in the nation’s ‘founding principles’ and those included in the U.N. document on human rights…” (Morello, 7/8).

Additional coverage of the announcement is available from Agence France-Presse, CBS News, CNN, The Hill, HuffPost, NPR, VOA News, and Wall Street Journal.

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USAID Looks To Redesign Multibillion Dollar Global Health Supply Chain Program Project

Devex: USAID goes back to the drawing board for global health supply chains
“The U.S. Agency for International Development is gathering input as it looks ahead to the next version of one of its largest projects, a multibillion-dollar effort to deliver health commodities around the world. In late May, USAID released two requests for information aimed at informing the design of whatever the agency’s global health bureau decides should replace the Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement and Supply Management project, a multibillion effort managed by a consortium led by Chemonics International…” (Igoe, 7/9).

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French Aid Director Criticizes USAID's 'Journey To Self-Reliance' Strategy

Devex: French aid boss hits out at USAID’s ‘perverse’ self-reliance strategy
“Europe should reject the logic behind the United States’ ‘perverse’ new aid strategy, the head of the French Development Agency, or AFD, has told Devex, arguing that Washington’s focus on countries’ ‘self-reliance’ reflects one of two competing visions on the future of development cooperation. … [F]or Rémy Rioux, director general at AFD, this reflects an outdated model of development. ‘It’s the logic of ‘catching up’: That is, one day these countries will be like the United States and they’ll get by by themselves,’ Rioux told Devex last week in his office in Paris. ‘Today, in the real world, it’s a narrative that bothers me. Because to allocate development finance according to the capacity of a country to overcome (the need) for development finance is a little perverse, in fact. It’s a way of legitimizing a narrative of pulling back’…” (Chadwick, 7/9).

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Nuclear Threat Initiative, Partners Hold Dialogue Sessions To Discuss Global Health Security Issues, Pandemic Preparedness

Homeland Preparedness News: NTI effort addresses high consequence biological risks
“Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) personnel recently joined a series of partners in addressing the increasing risks of a catastrophic biological event. Citing such factors as rapid technological advances, an increasingly interconnected world with health security challenges, ongoing global insecurity and disorder, and a breakdown in global security and scientific norms, the NTI helped spearhead dialogue focused on preparing for high consequence and globally catastrophic biological events of the future…” (Clark, 7/8).

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WHO DG Calls DRC Ebola Outbreak 'Global Wake-Up Call'; Tedros, U.K. Aid Head Stewart Urge More Countries To Increase Funding

The Guardian: Conflict and insecurity driving spread of diseases like Ebola, WHO chief warns
“The head of the World Health Organization has called the world’s second worst Ebola outbreak a ‘global wake-up call’ to the escalating risk of disease outbreaks spreading from conflict areas neglected by the international community. Only when there was ‘fear and panic’ in the headlines did the international community put money into responding, said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The real issue was a lack of day-to-day funding for preparedness to combat serious epidemics before they become regional or international threats, he said…” (Beaumont, 7/9).

The Telegraph: Richer countries must do more to help in Ebola fight, says Rory Stewart
“International Development Secretary Rory Stewart has urged countries such as France and Japan to ‘step up’ and provide more funding to fight the Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Mr. Stewart, who visited the country at the weekend touring a U.K. aid-funded clinic as well as seeing efforts to contain the disease at the border with Rwanda, said that other G7 countries must help meet the funding shortfall highlighted by the World Health Organization last month. The WHO says it needed $98.4m for the period February to July but has received just $43.6m, leaving a funding shortfall of $54.8m…” (Gulland, 7/8).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak and response is available from BBC News (2), CIDRAP News, and Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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WHO Publishes Updated Essential Medicines, Diagnostics Lists

Forbes: WHO List of Essential Tests Gets An Upgrade
“Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) published two lists that are critical for global health: the 21st WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (EML), and the 2nd WHO Model List of Essential Diagnostics (EDL). The purpose of these lists is to help countries prioritize critical health products that should be widely available, accessible, and affordable throughout health systems, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)…” (Pai, 7/9).

Reuters: WHO updates its essential medicines list, adds cancer and stroke drugs
“…The [medicines] list included five new cancer therapies based on improved survival rates for lung, blood, and prostate cancers, and recommended two new immunotherapies — nivolumab and pembrolizumab — that had improved survival rates by 50% for advanced melanoma, which was incurable until recently…” (Miles, 7/9).

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Experts Discuss Grand Bargain Process In Panel Hosted By New Humanitarian, OECD

New Humanitarian: It’s time to talk about the Grand Bargain
“When big donors and aid agencies signed the Grand Bargain in 2016, they committed to reforms that included greater transparency, bringing people who receive aid into the decision-making process, and getting more resources to local and national responders. But three years on — at a recent event hosted by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva — some in the aid community described the process as ‘endless,’ ‘top down,’ and a ‘smokescreen’ doing little to deliver humanitarian aid more efficiently. … So what’s next, and what’s needed? Those are questions the New Humanitarian and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) put to six professionals with expertise across the humanitarian sector as NGOs, donors, analysts, and campaigners…” (7/8).

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SciDev.Net Spotlight Examines Antimicrobial Resistance In Series Of Articles

SciDev.Net: Antimicrobial resistance: a global crisis
“Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is ranked as one of the World Health Organization’s top 10 threats to global health. … This Spotlight looks at some of the many facets of this complex problem, and asks ‘what are the solutions?’ What changes can be made by doctors, drugs companies, policymakers, farmers, and patients themselves, to stem this crisis? Jayasree K. Iyer, executive director of the Access to Medicine Foundation, talks to SciDev.Net about the role of pharmaceutical companies in the battle against AMR, while Nicola Magrini of the WHO discusses the latest tool for medics to promote responsible antibiotic use…” (Multiple authors, 7/5).

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News Outlets Highlight Health-Related Issues In Crisis-Hit Venezuela, Neighboring Colombia

Agence France-Presse: Malaria surges back in crisis-hit Venezuela
“…[M]alaria is rapidly making its presence felt [in rural border towns] as in the rest of Venezuela — a country that could once boast of being the first to have eradicated the disease in 1961. … Added to this is the malnutrition that weakens resistance to the disease, a new phenomenon since the economic crisis took hold at the end of 2015. … Between 2016 and 2017 alone, the number of malaria cases in the nation jumped 70 percent…” (7/7).

Al Jazeera: Colombian hospitals overwhelmed with Venezuelans
“Hospitals in Colombia say they can’t cope with the growing number of undocumented Venezuelans seeking medical attention as they flee their crumbling health system. Migrants concentrate in border towns, which are sometimes among the poorest in the country. Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti reports from Maicao in northern Colombia…” (Rampietti, 7/4).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: As Venezuela’s health care collapses, pregnant women, girls bear brunt of crisis
“In Caracas’s main maternity hospital the blood banks and medicine cabinets are empty, the power and water regularly cut out — and women and girls are dying needlessly, according to one of the few remaining doctors, Luisangela Correa. … Correa, the U.N., and women’s rights groups all said unsanitary hospital conditions along with food and medical shortages had led to a rise in maternal mortality rates…” (Moloney, 7/8).

Xinhua News: Venezuela, UNICEF ink deal to improve access to drinking water
“The Venezuelan government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) [July 3] signed an agreement to improve access to drinking water in the South American country. The agreement was signed by Evelyn Vasquez, minister for water care, and Herve Ludovic, UNICEF’s representative in Venezuela…” (7/4).

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More News In Global Health

Al Jazeera: Honduran women demand protocol for survivors of sex abuse (Brigida, 7/7).

Associated Press: Rights group calls Duterte’s drug war crime against humanity (Gomez, 7/8).

Associated Press: U.N. rights chief ‘appalled’ by conditions in U.S. for migrants (Keaten, 7/8).

Associated Press: U.N. report: 464,000 people killed in homicides in 2017 (Lederer, 7/8).

Devex: Somali aid community faces up to a new reality of recurring drought (Jerving, 7/9).

MercoPress: Latin America suffering triple burden of malnutrition: obesity, unbalanced diets and declining activity (7/9).

NPR: Drug Prices Can Take A Surprising Turn When A Poor Country Gets Richer (Lu, 7/8).

PRI: Mandatory sex ed curriculum stirs controversy in Argentina (Herrera, 7/4).

STAT: Everyone agrees this superbug is a threat. Few are willing to fund research to stop it (Branswell, 7/8).

Vox: Facebook says it will crack down on health misinformation (Plante, 7/8).

Washington Post: One-third of toddlers exposed to Zika in the womb suffer developmental problems, study says (Bever, 7/8).

Xinhua News: Lao gov’t issues nationwide dengue warning (7/9).

Xinhua News: Over 460,000 suspected cholera cases in Yemen this year, 705 dead: U.N. (7/9).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Piece Clarifies Role Of Public Health Emergency Of International Concern Designation

The Lancet: The truth about PHEICs
Johan Giesecke, professor emeritus at Karolinska Institute, on behalf of the WHO Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards (STAG-IH)

“The recent decision by the WHO director general that the Ebola virus outbreak in [the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo)] does not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) has generated controversy … Members of the WHO Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards (STAG-IH) … would like to clarify the role of the International Health Regulations (IHR) and the designation of a PHEIC. … The decision to declare a PHEIC lies with the WHO director general and requires the input of a committee of experts — the IHR emergency committee. By declaring a PHEIC, the director general requires state parties to share critical information for risk assessment, adjust response plans if deemed necessary, and implement temporary recommendations formulated by the emergency committee. … [T]he declaration of a PHEIC for the current Ebola outbreak would add no clear benefit in any of these three areas. Both DR Congo and Uganda are providing information in a timely manner, and 10 months into the outbreak (with innumerable daily border crossings of inhabitants in the area), the recent event in Uganda is confined to close family members. Members of the emergency committee cited potential disadvantages of a PHEIC declaration (effects on travel and trade that could impede support to affected regions and hinder outbreak control) and provided technical advice that the STAG-IH supports fully. … The public health community must recognize the close link between disease and trade inherent in IHR (2005) and the risks and benefits of using this strong instrument of international law to raise awareness and resources — a policy that could jeopardize the future effectiveness of these regulations in sectors of society other than health” (7/5).

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Opinion Piece Outlines 5 Criteria Next UNAIDS Executive Director Should Fulfill

The Lancet: Offline: Who should lead UNAIDS?
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet

“Who is best qualified to lead an organization — UNAIDS — that has not only suffered severe reputational loss, but also faces threats to its continuing existence? … The next executive director of UNAIDS must fulfill five criteria. First, s/he must have the personal integrity to restore trust and credibility to a damaged organization — and to give governments confidence to invest in the AIDS response. Second, s/he must have proven scientific understanding of the AIDS epidemic in order to be able to use evidence as a platform for political advocacy. Third, s/he must have demonstrable ability to represent and engage with civil society. Fourth, s/he must be able to point to their commitment to key vulnerable populations. And finally, s/he must be able to show transformational leadership of a large organization. The Program Coordinating Board of UNAIDS met in Geneva … and ‘commended the strong competencies of all short-listed candidates.’ After interviews, a Committee of Cosponsoring Organizations will deliver no more than three names to the U.N. Secretary-General, António Guterres. It is no exaggeration to say that his choice may determine the future fate of the AIDS epidemic” (7/6).

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'Sustained, Coordinated, Multifront' Approach Critical To Addressing Antibiotic Resistance

Washington Post: We can’t despair about our antibiotic crisis
Michelle A. Williams, dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

“…Although the antibiotic-resistance problem is complex — spanning the domains of clinical medicine, basic research, economics, and government policy — there is a clear path to reversing the situation. … We must marshal a sustained, coordinated, multifront campaign. Here is one prescription to solve the antibiotic crisis: First, prevent infections whenever possible. … Second, invest far more money in research and development. … Finally, we must reframe the way we think about antibiotic drugs. … Reversing the tide of antibiotic resistance won’t be easy. The issue is similar to climate change in that it seems distant, abstract, and insidious, but is potentially catastrophic for those it affects. Unlike with climate change, however, there are no ‘antibiotic resistance deniers.’ Experts agree that this crisis is solvable with science and with money. The time to act is now” (7/8).

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Transformative Action Needed To Ensure Most Vulnerable Have Access To WASH

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Opinion: Action needed: Time is running out for global water ambitions
Sarina Prabasi, chief executive officer of WaterAid America

“Billions of people still live and die in water and sanitation poverty — a direct result of decisions taken, or not taken, by those in power. … Not only is progress far too slow, but the figures mask the fact that many of the positive increases have been disproportionally at the upper ends of society. The gap between the richest and poorest in many countries is widening, leaving the most marginalized even further behind. … This crisis demands a significant increase in international aid from high-income countries, but also a transformation in how money is raised and distributed in developing countries to ensure it is invested in essential services for the people who need it the most. To maintain the status quo is unacceptable. We have until 2030 to turn things around. Failure to do so will stall global development and ensure the sustainable development goals remain an elusive and unobtainable pipe dream” (7/4).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Vaccine Skepticism Plays Role In Increased Risk Of Disease Outbreaks, AEI Visiting Scholar Says

AEIdeas: Vaccine rates are falling, encouraging disease outbreaks
Roger Bate, visiting scholar at AEI, discusses results from a Wellcome assessment of opinions on vaccinations and highlights the role of vaccine skepticism in potentially increasing the risk of disease outbreaks (7/8).

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CGD Policy Paper Discusses How To Build Stronger Research Institutions In Sub-Saharan Africa; Authors Seek Comments

Center for Global Development: To Build Stronger Research Institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa, We Need Your Help
Alex Ezeh, distinguished visiting fellow, and Jessie Lu, research assistant, both at CGD, discuss key takeaways from a new policy paper that summarizes “the primary obstacles to institutional growth in [sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)]” and provides “recommendations for innovative models to more successfully and impactfully address capacity building in the region.” The authors welcome feedback on the paper (7/1).

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From the U.S. Government

CDC Provides Overview Of Countries With Completed Joint External Evaluation Assessments

CDC: Joint External Evaluation Assessments (January 2016-July 2019)
This animated infographic provides an overview of countries that have completed a joint external evaluation (JEE) assessment since January 2016. To date, 100 countries have completed a JEE (7/5).

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