KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Humanitarian Crisis In Yemen Grows Urgent After Saudi-Led Coalition Launches Offensive To Capture Port City

Devex: Battle for Hodeida puts local aid workers in the crosshairs
“A Saudi-led offensive against Houthi rebels on Yemen’s major port of Hodeida could increase risks of cholera and famine as access to food and water plummets, humanitarians are warning, while exposing aid agencies’ reliance on local staff to provide assistance in the most dangerous settings. … Humanitarian workers described a ‘steady, gradual decline’ in conditions…” (Lieberman/Chadwick, 6/14).

New York Times: Humanitarian Crisis Worsens in Yemen After Attack on Port
“An Arab military coalition invaded Yemen’s main Red Sea port on Wednesday, worsening what is already the world’s most severe humanitarian disaster by disrupting the delivery of food and other supplies to millions of Yemenis. … After years of war, eight million of Yemen’s estimated 28 million people are at risk of starvation, according to the United Nations and aid agencies…” (Coker/Schmidt, 6/13).

Washington Post: Running on empty
“…Refugee settlements have sprung up across southern Yemen, multiplying the pressure on Western aid agencies and hospitals struggling to cope with injuries, disease, and hunger. The crisis grew even more urgent on Wednesday when a Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s exiled government launched an offensive to capture Hodeida, a vital port controlled by northern rebels. The United Nations has warned that an assault on the city of 600,000 people could kill tens — even hundreds — of thousands of civilians…” (Raghavan, 6/14).

Additional coverage of the war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen is available from The Guardian, PRI, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

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CHANGE, Other Groups Work To Highlight Little-Known Exceptions To Mexico City Policy

NPR: Trump’s Ban On Funding For Overseas Abortions Has Some Little-Known Exceptions
“…Trump’s version [of the Mexico City policy] is far more sweeping. Rather than limiting the ban to U.S. aid for family planning services, Trump has for the first time applied it to aid for virtually all global health services, including HIV treatment and prevention. Meaning if any health service also provides information on abortion, it can’t get U.S. funding. … Less well-known is that the administration has actually included several exceptions to the policy — essentially a list of conditions under which a group that accepts U.S. aid money can still refer clients to an abortion provider. Now several advocacy groups that oppose the policy are trying to spread the word. Among them is the Washington, D.C.-based group Center for Health and Gender Equity, or CHANGE, which released this month a report that includes an analysis of these exceptions…” (Aizenman, 6/13).

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U.S., E.U. Resist Commitments On New Funding, Delinking R&D Costs From Drug Costs In Draft TB Declaration

POLITICO Pro: Draft TB declaration: U.S., E.U. push against funding, delinkage pledges
“The E.U. and U.S. are resisting concrete commitments on new funding for tuberculosis ahead of a high-level U.N. meeting about fighting the world’s top infectious killer. The two regions are also pushing to eliminate language that would urge countries to work to separate the cost of R&D from the price of a drug — so called delinkage — according to a draft of the political declaration to be signed by heads of state at the U.N. General Assembly on September 26…” (Wheaton, 6/12).

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State Department Appointee Inquiring About Staffers' Loyalty To President Trump, Sources Say

Foreign Policy: Trump Appointee Compiles Loyalty List of U.S. Employees at U.N., State
“…Mari Stull, a former food and beverage lobbyist-turned-wine blogger under the name ‘Vino Vixen,’ [and now a senior adviser to the State Department,] has reviewed the social media pages of State Department staffers for signs of ideological deviation. She has researched the names of government officials to determine whether they signed off on Obama-era policies — though signing off does not mean officials personally endorsed them but merely cleared them through the bureaucratic chain. And she has inquired about Americans employed by international agencies, including the World Health Organization and the United Nations, asking their colleagues when they were hired and by whom, according the officials…” (Lynch/Gramer, 6/13).

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OPIC CEO Ray Washburne Discusses BUILD Act At Devex World Conference

Devex: Q&A: OPIC’s Ray Washburne on the proposed U.S. development finance institution
“As the BUILD Act makes its way through the legislative process, concerns remain about exactly how the proposed United States development finance institution would work with the U.S. Agency for International development, what its social and environmental standards would be, and how its mandate will be interpreted. … If passed, the landmark legislation would create a new agency combining the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and USAID’s Development Credit Authority, as well as expand U.S. development finance capabilities. … On Tuesday, at Devex World in Washington, D.C., Devex sat down with Ray Washburne, OPIC’s chief executive officer, to discuss his first nine months on the job and the issue of USAID linkages, as well as some of the other concerns that are being raised as the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations prepares to markup the bill…” (Saldinger, 6/14).

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E.U. Member States Back Plan To Reduce Antibiotic Use In Food Chain, Among Humans

Reuters: E.U. backs plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance
“E.U. member states backed a plan on Wednesday to combat antimicrobial resistance, an increasing global health issue, that would reduce the use of antibiotics in the food chain and limit certain drugs to humans…” (Echikson, 6/13).

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Ghana Becomes First Sub-Saharan African Nation To Eliminate Trachoma

Devex: Ghana eliminates trachoma
“Ghana has become the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday. Experts credited community, regional, and international collaboration across the public and private sectors for stamping out the disease, which in 2000 threatened more than 2.8 million people in Ghana with blindness, or about 15 percent of the population, according to WHO figures…” (Anders/Roby, 6/14).

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Sanofi's Dengue Vaccine Increases Risk Of Severe Disease Among Children Not Previously Infected, Analysis Confirms

Reuters: Study confirms higher risk of dengue in kids who got Sanofi vaccine
“An analysis of data on Sanofi’s dengue vaccine, which has been given to more than 800,000 school children in the Philippines, confirms it increases the risk of hospitalization and severe dengue in those who had never previously been infected with the mosquito-borne virus…” (Steenhuysen, 6/13).

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Health Experts Continue Efforts To Prevent Ebola's Spread In DRC, Employ Experimental Vaccine

Associated Press: ‘They’re at risk:’ Congo’s taxi drivers fear Ebola’s spread
“…This outbreak is a major test of an Ebola vaccine that for the first time is being used at the start of an epidemic after showing promise late in the West Africa outbreak that killed thousands a few years ago. Health workers are among the first to receive the vaccine as they work on the front lines and are most at risk. But some of Mbandaka’s taxi drivers argue they are on the front lines of the epidemic as well, even if their chances of becoming infected appear to be shrinking…” (Mednick, 6/14).

VOA News: Health Experts Dispatch Experimental Vaccine to Fight Congo’s Latest Ebola Outbreak
“Health experts are dispatching an experimental vaccine in areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that are considered ground zero in the fight against Ebola. Their hope is to try to combat the outbreak from the onset. The crucial test is providing hope, in times of uncertainty…” (Taboh, 6/14).

For up-to-date information on the number of confirmed, probable, and suspected cases, visit the Twitter feed of WHO Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response Peter Salama.

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More News In Global Health

Agence France-Presse: ‘Forced’ sterilization of Brazilian woman sparks uproar (Smith, 6/14).

Fast Company: How satellite imagery could combat infectious diseases around the world (Terdiman, 6/13).

Financial Times: HIV treatment breakthrough boosts GSK (Neville, 6/14).
Reuters: GSK’s two-drug HIV treatment meets main goal in late-stage studies (Nair, 6/14).

IRIN: Q&A: How a legal challenge on Rohingya deportation could redefine the bounds of international justice (Loy, 6/13).

Scientific American: New Probiotic Cholera Vaccine Can Outrace the Infection’s Rapid Spread (Coniff, 6/13).

VOA News: UNAIDS Chief: Testing is Critical in Combating HIV/AIDS (Hoke, 6/14).

Xinhua News: Namibia, Angola jointly craft strategy to eliminate malaria (6/14).

Xinhua News: Tanzania’s family planning budget up by 60 pct (6/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S., Other Western Countries Should Not Be Complicit As War-Torn Yemen Faces Humanitarian Disaster, Famine

Washington Post: 8 million teeter on the brink of famine. America is complicit.
Editorial Board

“…Because 70 percent of Yemen’s food and aid shipments come though [Hodeida], the United Nations and every major humanitarian agency have warned of dire consequences [of attacks on the port city] for the 22 million Yemenis who already depend on outside assistance, including eight million on the brink of famine. … As it is, Yemen’s escape from full-blown famine during the past two years has been something of a miracle, the result of heroic efforts by aid groups that have kept trucks rumbling up the dangerous roads from Hodeida to regions where food and medicine are in desperately short supply. But humanitarian assistance has not prevented what has become the worst cholera epidemic in history, with more than one million people infected. … The Trump administration could have prevented the assault on Hodeida; instead, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo equivocated, thereby allowing it to go forward. Congress, which has long been uneasy with U.S. support for the Yemen war, must now act. All funding for U.S. support for the intervention should be halted and further arms sales put on hold until the offensive ends, humanitarian assistance flows freely, and peace talks are underway” (6/13).

New York Times: The Disaster Awaiting Yemen After Al Hudaydah Falls
Alex De Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University

“…Saudi and Emirati strategists may not be intending to starve the Yemeni people into submission. But in practice, if not motive, hunger has become a weapon in this war. On May 24, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 2417, condemning starvation of civilians as a method of warfare. The resolution didn’t name names, but its first test is Yemen. And Yemen is America’s war, too. The United States is a longstanding ally of Saudi Arabia, and it has become more so since President Trump repudiated the Iran nuclear deal. … The United States could exert real influence on the Saudi and Emirati forces. … [T]he United States — as well as other Western countries — faces a choice between being complicit in an unfolding calamity or stepping in to try to stop it. … Famine isn’t just about masses of people going hungry; famine tears societies apart. It means mass exodus caused by desperation. It means humiliation and collective trauma. … If mass starvation takes hold in Yemen, expect an even more deeply divided country. … Expect to see the ugly and perilous repercussions of this harrowing experience for years to come” (6/14).

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Long-Term, Preventive Efforts Critical To Responding To, Containing, Eliminating Infectious Diseases

STAT: Do we keep waiting for the next pandemic or try to prevent it?
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

“…As cities continue to grow, our best defense will be anticipating outbreaks before they occur. For some diseases, that means making childhood immunization and pre-emptive vaccination campaigns a priority. In other cases, it may mean greater investment in sanitation infrastructure, which can help prevent not just cholera but other water-borne diseases, like the diarrhea-causing rotavirus. And many poor countries are in desperate need of basic diagnostics and surveillance capabilities; enabling them to detect an outbreak as early as possible gives them an opportunity to quickly respond. … All countries must step up their long-term efforts to prevent and, wherever possible, eliminate infectious disease. If we keep waiting until outbreaks occur, we may soon find that our ability to respond, contain, and end them is gravely inadequate” (6/14).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Brookings Blog Post Provides Recommendations For Consolidation Of U.S. Foreign Aid Data Dashboards

Brookings Institution’s “Future Development”: U.S. foreign aid transparency: How to fix dueling dashboards
George Ingram, senior fellow for global economy and development at Brookings, and Sally Paxton, U.S. representative for Publish What You Fund, discuss U.S. foreign aid transparency and the potential consolidation of data reported on two U.S. government dashboards, ForeignAssistance.gov and Foreign Aid Explorer. Ingram and Paxton note, “We strongly recommend that the decisions being made to consolidate the two dashboards put the interests of users and taxpayers foremost” (6/13).

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CGD Blog Post Highlights Nobel Laureate's Remarks On Applying Economics Lessons To Global Health Procurement

Center for Global Development: Jean Tirole Connects the Dots: Lessons from Modern Economics for Global Health Procurement
Rachel Silverman, senior policy analyst and assistant director of global health policy at CGD, highlights remarks by Jean Tirole, Nobel laureate in economics and chair of the Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), at a recent technical workshop on “how lessons from specific subfields of economics … can inform procurement of global health commodities in low- and middle-income countries” (6/13).

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U.N. Agencies Welcome Sweden's Multi-Year Core Funding Contribution

UNDP: UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, and U.N. Women Welcome Sweden’s Multi-Year Commitment to Core Funding
“UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, and U.N. Women welcome with appreciation the Government of Sweden’s decision to enter into multi-year core funding agreements with our agencies. These will enhance our ability to fulfill our mandates and carry out our work with the greatest possible flexibility and predictability. This 6.8 billion SEK contribution will help us deliver better results for the communities we serve…” (6/12).

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U.N. Dispatch Discusses Potential Humanitarian Impact Of Attack On Yemen's Only Operational Port

U.N. Dispatch: The U.N.’s Nightmare Scenario is Now Unfolding in Yemen
Mark Leon Goldberg, editor of U.N. Dispatch and host of the Global Dispatches Podcast, discusses the humanitarian situation in Yemen, highlighting a podcast episode with Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group about the consequences of an attack on Hodeida, the only operational port in the country through which most humanitarian aid and food is imported (6/12).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID/Southern Africa Acting Director Delivers Remarks At 5th SA TB Conference

USAID: 5th SA TB Conference: TB Symposium — Finding missing TB patients among key populations
Rebecca Krzywda, USAID/Southern Africa acting director, on Tuesday delivered remarks at the SA TB Conference 2018 on U.S. TB efforts in South Africa. She said, “USAID will continue to work with the national government to expand the access to TB services among vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations, including people living with HIV, mineworkers, pregnant women, and children. This remains the critical and important component of our TB programs” (6/12).

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