KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

NPR Examines White House, Senate Proposals To Revamp U.S. Foreign Aid, Highlights Reactions From Former, Current State Department, Aid Group Officials

NPR: U.S. Mulls Controversial Foreign Aid Shake-up
“Efforts are underway in Washington to revamp U.S. foreign aid in the wake of the coronavirus. Proposals from both the White House and the Senate would shift billions of dollars in foreign assistance, consolidate control over U.S. humanitarian aid in the State Department and — according to one former top aid official — undermine the lifesaving work of USAID. … Andrew Natsios, who led USAID from 2001 to 2006 under George W. Bush, … says the current separation of USAID from the State Department insulates development programs from the political whims of the White House. He says President Trump in particular tries to use assistance to punish foreign leaders who cross him…” (Beaubien, 6/17).

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Media Outlets Examine U.S. Preparedness For, Vulnerabilities In Infectious Disease Outbreaks

Washington Post: Before the pandemic, top contractor received billions from government to help prepare the nation for biowarfare
“As it races to create a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, the Trump administration this month announced that one of its largest pandemic-related contracts would go to a little-known biodefense company named Emergent BioSolutions. … [O]ver the past decade, the company has acquired biodefense competitors and treatments for smallpox, botulism, and other threats for which there is no market outside of government. Now, Emergent is the only maker of multiple drugs the government deems crucial for the Strategic National Stockpile, and the government is the company’s primary customer, accounting for most of its revenue, according to interviews with current and former government and company officials as well as government and corporate records. A Washington Post examination found that Emergent’s strategy has been rewarded with a series of large contracts as the Trump administration focused on biodefense over preparations for a natural pandemic. But Emergent’s dominance has fueled new risks for national health preparedness, according to documents and former government officials…” (O’Harrow et al., 6/17).

WIRED: Covid-19 Is Bad. But It May Not Be the ‘Big One’
“…Spillovers of animal pathogens into the human world—the source of flu and HIV and the virus behind Covid-19—happen on no predictable timeline. That means another pandemic could be on its way at any moment. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seemed to acknowledge as much when he told the House of Representatives at a hearing on June 4: ‘You think we weren’t prepared for this, wait until we have a real global threat for our health security.’ That expectation is leading modelers and planners to a difficult realization. Not only will the U.S. need a high-level effort to figure out what went wrong in its response to the novel coronavirus, it needs to start soon, and not wait for whenever the end of this pandemic might be. … At least five proposals to launch an [inquiry into the U.S. coronavirus response] have been circulated in the House of Representatives, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service…” (McKenna, 6/17).

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E.U. To Host Global COVID-19 Vaccine Summit On June 27; Trump Pushing To Speed Up Already-Fast Vaccine Research Timeline

VOA News: E.U. to Host Global COVID-19 Vaccine Summit
“The European Union called on the international community Wednesday to ensure potential coronavirus vaccines are equally available to all nations. In a video statement, E.U. Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen called a global vaccine summit on June 27 at which the E.U. and its partners will solicit countries to pool their resources and reserve future vaccines for low- and middle-income countries…” (6/17).

Washington Post: Trump pushing officials to speed up already-ambitious coronavirus vaccine timeline
“…In a meeting last month with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar — who is overseeing the effort called Operation Warp Speed, along with Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper — Trump pushed Azar repeatedly to speed up the already unprecedented timeline, according to two senior White House officials familiar with the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. Trump wants some people to be able to get the vaccine sooner than the end of the year to demonstrate an end to the pandemic is within reach, according to those officials and two others…” (Abutaleb et al., 6/17).

Additional coverage of efforts to develop, test, approve, and distribute a successful COVID-19 vaccine is available from Al Jazeera, AP, CNBC, and Reuters (2).

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WHO Drops Hydroxychloroquine From Large COVID-19 Treatment Study, Welcomes Preliminary Results On Dexamethasone But Warns Drug 'No Cure-All'

STAT: WHO drops hydroxychloroquine from Covid-19 clinical trial
“The World Health Organization on Wednesday said it was dropping the malaria medicine hydroxychloroquine from its massive study investigating treatments for the coronavirus, after available data indicated the drug was not effective for Covid-19…” (Joseph, 6/17).

U.N. News: Welcoming early results on use of dexamethasone in sickest COVID-19 patients, WHO warns it’s ‘no cure-all’
“The U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday hailed news from the United Kingdom that a common steroid, dexamethasone, can potentially help save the lives of patients with severe cases of COVID-19, but it warned that it is by no means a cure-all. Early findings suggest that, for hospitalized coronavirus patients on oxygen, dexamethasone — a low-cost prescription anti-inflammatory drug that is available worldwide — can reduce COVID-19 mortality by about one-fifth…” (6/17).

Additional coverage of the WHO study’s dropping of hydroxychloroquine, early results of dexamethasone to treat seriously ill COVID-19 patients, and other treatment research is available from Becker’s Hospital Review, CIDRAP News, CNBC, NBC (2), Reuters (2) (3), and Xinhua.

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Australian Foreign Minister Delivers Speech Discussing Country's New Aid Policy, WHO, Multilateral Organizations

Devex: Australia puts WHO, multilaterals under the microscope with new aid policy
“Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne used an address to the Australian National University on June 16 to deliver criticism to the politics of the United Nations and World Health Organization, telling the audience the COVID-19 pandemic had ‘drawn attention to the strengths and the weaknesses of the U.N. system.’… The speech comes shortly after the release of Australia’s new aid policy in May which has transitioned the aid program to focus capacity on responding to COVID-19 in the Pacific, Timor-Leste, and Indonesia. Within Australia, the speech has been seen as cementing the country’s position as a middle power that can have more influence on the global stage. … But questions remain as to how the new aid policy will be operationalized, and whether multilateral institutions that do not meet Australian objectives will face budget cuts in an aid program that is not expected to see a boost from previous forecasts…” (Cornish, 6/18).

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DFID Staffers Speak Out About Merger With FCO; U.K. Parliament's International Development Committee Faces Closure; Devex Examines PM Johnson's Speech On Merger

Devex: ‘A real kick in the teeth’: DFID staffers speak out on merger
“Staff members at the U.K.’s Department for International Development have spoken out about the dissolution of the department, expressing fears over the potential for U.K. aid to be misused and irritation at learning of the news from the media. Political journalists in the U.K. began reporting the planned merger of DFID with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office several hours before Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the official announcement in Parliament on Tuesday. He said DFID and FCO will become the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in September…” (Worley/Chadwick, 6/17).

Devex: IDC faces closure as chair calls for new committee to scrutinize aid
“The U.K. Parliament’s aid watchdog is facing closure in September, in line with the Department for International Development’s merger with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Sarah Champion, chair of the International Development Committee — the parliamentary body that scrutinizes U.K. aid spending — received a letter informing her that the committee would be closed down just hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a merger between DFID and FCO on Tuesday, forming a new Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office…” (Worley, 6/18).

Devex: What Boris Johnson’s speech reveals about the future of U.K. aid
“The prime minister’s speech raised several red flags about how official development assistance will be used by the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office…” (Worley, 6/17).

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New Beijing COVID-19 Outbreak Sign Of 'New Normal'; West African Ministers Propose Phased Re-Openings; PAHO Officials Warn Of Growing Case Numbers In Latin America; Yemen Faces Civil War Amid Pandemic

AFRICA

AP: South Africa says 2 pandemics now, virus and gender violence (Cana, 6/17).

Bloomberg: China to Waive Some African Loan Payments Due This Year, Xi Says (Chen et al., 6/17).

Financial Times: African business steps up in global scramble for virus test kits (Munshi, 6/18).

Reuters: West African ministers propose phased re-opening of borders (Aboa, 6/17).

Xinhua: Botswana president calls for global partnerships in responding to COVID-19 (6/17).

ASIA

New York Times: Beijing’s Partial Lockdown a Sign of the World’s New Normal (Buckley/Bradsher, 6/17).

Washington Post: Beijing’s new coronavirus outbreak carries an urgent message for the world (Taylor, 6/18).

EUROPE

AP: Russia starts clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine (Litvinova, 6/17).

New York Times: England’s ‘World Beating’ System to Track the Virus Is Anything But (Mueller/Bradley, 6/17).

POLITICO: Coronavirus gives new urgency to Europe’s obesity problem (Martuscelli et al., 6/17).

Reuters: Spanish king to lead July 16 ceremony for COVID-19 victims (Landauro, 6/17).

Reuters: England’s COVID-19 test and trace system reaches over 85,000 in two weeks (Smout, 6/18).

The Telegraph: Boris Johnson says ‘watch this space’ as he hints at reduction to 2m rule (Boycott-Owen, 6/17).

Wall Street Journal: Germany Sees Largest Local Covid-19 Outbreak Since Lifting Lockdown (Pancevski/Newman, 6/17).

LATIN AMERICA

NPR: President Of Honduras Tests Positive For Coronavirus, Vows To ‘Beat This Pandemic’ (Dwyer, 6/17).

Reuters: Exclusive: Peru miners restart pandemic-hit operations with mass testing, isolating workers (Aquino, 6/18).

Scientific American: Latin America Faces a Critical Moment in the Battle against COVID-19 (Ponchner, 6/17).

MIDDLE EAST

Al Jazeera: In Yemen, battling coronavirus during civil war (6/17).

Reuters: Many Jordanians struggling as country emerges from COVID-19 lockdown, U.N. agency says (Al-Khalidi, 6/17).

NORTH AMERICA

New York Times: With the Federal Health Megaphone Silent, States Struggle With a Shifting Pandemic (Stolberg et al., 6/17).

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Disease Outbreaks Result From Destruction Of Nature, U.N., WHO, WWF International Warn; Smoke From Tropical Forest Fires Could Worsen COVID-19 Impacts

The Guardian: Pandemics result from destruction of nature, say U.N. and WHO
“Pandemics such as coronavirus are the result of humanity’s destruction of nature, according to leaders at the U.N., WHO, and WWF International, and the world has been ignoring this stark reality for decades. … [The organizations’ leaders] are calling for a green and healthy recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular by reforming destructive farming and unsustainable diets. A WWF report, also published on Wednesday, warns: ‘The risk of a new [wildlife-to-human] disease emerging in the future is higher than ever, with the potential to wreak havoc on health, economies, and global security’…” (Carrington, 6/17).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Smoke risk: Scientists warn forest fires could worsen coronavirus harm
“People living in the world’s tropical forest regions, from Brazil to Indonesia, face heightened risk to their health this year from a potentially deadly combination of forest fires and the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists warned on Wednesday. Air pollution caused by smoke from annual human-caused fires that rage in tropical regions is expected to make cases of the novel coronavirus more severe, they said…” (Rowling, 6/17).

Additional coverage of the relationship between the environment and disease is available from The Hill and Scientific American.

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Emissions Rebounding As Countries Reopen Following Coronavirus Lockdowns; Global Opinion Poll Finds Widespread Support For Stricter Air Quality Regulations, Enforcement

New York Times: In 5 Countries, Overwhelming Majorities Want Cleaner Air, Poll Finds
“The coronavirus lockdown has fed a common desire in some very different countries: the need for cleaner air and support for tougher government rules to get rid of pollution, according to an opinion poll made public on Wednesday. A survey of people in five countries — Britain, Bulgaria, India, Nigeria, and Poland — found significant support for stricter air quality regulations and enforcement of existing rules. The survey was carried out amid the pandemic, between May 22 and June 2, by the online polling service, YouGov, on behalf of an advocacy group called the Clean Air Fund. About 90 percent of those surveyed in India and Nigeria said they want improved air quality…” (Sengupta, 6/17).

New York Times: Emissions Are Surging Back as Countries and States Reopen
“After a drastic decline this spring, global greenhouse gas emissions are now rebounding sharply, scientists reported, as countries relax their coronavirus lockdowns and traffic surges back onto roads. It’s a stark reminder that even as the pandemic rages, the world is still far from getting global warming under control. In early April, daily fossil fuel emissions worldwide were roughly 17 percent lower than they were in 2019, as governments ordered people to stay home, employees stopped driving to work, factories idled and airlines grounded their flights, according to a study published in May in Nature Climate Change…” (Plumer/Popovich, 6/17).

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COVID-19 Pandemic Presents Opportunity To Rethink Economic, Social Systems Based On Resilience, A.U. Development Head Says

Devex: This is an opportunity to imagine new systems, says A.U. development chief
“COVID-19 has revealed a fragility in social and economic systems that presents an opportunity to reimagine them in ways that are more resilient, says Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of AUDA-NEPAD, the African Union’s development agency. … He called on civil society, the private sector, and governments to rethink economic and social systems based on the concept of resilience. ‘We have not reflected enough about which type of social systems and economic systems we should build in order to cope in the future with such a pandemic,’ Mayaki said, noting that the pandemic has led communities to examine the relevance of many institutions, including governments themselves…” (Root, 6/17).

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COVID-19 Pandemic Impacting Global Prevention, Treatment Progress Against NTDs, Other Infectious Diseases, Experts Warn

CNN Philippines: Health officials worry COVID-19 pandemic could stall progress against neglected tropical diseases
“Health officials from various nations met in a World Health Organization webinar on Wednesday to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on fights against neglected tropical disease around the world. Global experts have long warned that the coronavirus pandemic could influence how nations are impacted by and responding to other communicable diseases — including neglected tropical diseases, a diverse group of illnesses that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions across 149 countries…” (Howard, 6/18).

Additional coverage of how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting efforts to prevent and treat other diseases is available from Business Insider India and Vox.

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Scientists Examining Why Some COVID-19 Cases More Severe Than Others, Likelihood Of Infection Among Children

STAT: How likely are kids to get Covid-19? Scientists see a ‘huge puzzle’ without easy answers
“…There is some evidence that kids are less likely to catch the virus and less likely to spread it, but it’s not clear exactly how strong that evidence is. Much of it was generated at a time when children were caught up in the topsy-turvy world of Covid-19 transmission suppression, with schools closed and families cocooned, limiting their chances of catching or spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In reality, it may take reopening schools and returning children to a closer-to-normal life for the picture to come into clearer focus. If we’re lucky, and the hints in the data hold true, a normalizing of children’s lives — and the lives of their parents — could be safely achieved. If we’re not lucky, and the hints were false harbingers, more disruption likely lies ahead…” (Branswell, 6/18).

USA TODAY: Why do some infected with the coronavirus escape COVID-19 unharmed? It’s probably their genes
“Researchers are diving deep into human genetics, hoping to find clues that might explain why many people brush off COVID-19 without even knowing they have it, while others are hospitalized or even die from the disease…” (Weintraub, 6/17).

Washington Post: The ultimate covid-19 mystery: Why does it spare some and kill others?
“…Among [researchers’] lines of inquiry: Are distinct strains of the coronavirus more dangerous? Does a patient’s blood type affect the severity of the illness? Do other genetic factors play a role? Are some people partially protected from covid-19 because they’ve had recent exposure to other coronaviruses? Much of the research remains provisional or ambiguous, and for now scientists can’t do much better than say that covid-19 is more likely to be worse for older people — often described as over the age of 60 — and for those with chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, lung disease, and heart disease…” (Achenbach et al., 6/17).

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Nearly 80M People Forcibly Displaced In 2019 Due To War, Violence, Other Emergencies, UNHCR High Commissioner Says Marking World Refugee Day

U.N. News: U.N. refugee chief laments nearly 80 million people forcibly displaced
“Global displacement reached a staggering 79.5 million people last year — almost double the number of people in crisis registered a decade ago — owing to war, violence, persecution, and other emergencies, the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Thursday. … ‘This almost 80 million figure — the highest that UNHCR has recorded since these statistics have been systematically collected, is of course a reason for great concern. This is approximately one percent of the world’s population, we have never reached this very significant percentage,’ UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi said, his comments coinciding with World Refugee Day, being marked this coming Saturday…” (6/18).

Additional coverage of the UNHCR announcement and other refugee issues is available from AP, PRI, and The Telegraph.

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More News In Global Health

CBC News: Canada loses its bid for seat on U.N. Security Council (Harris, 6/17).

CIDRAP News: High antibiotic prescribing rates found in lower-resource nations (Dall, 6/17).

Devex: Can business step up on SDGs post COVID-19? (Saldinger, 6/17).

Devex: How engagement with religious groups can help fight COVID-19 (Byatnal, 6/17).

Devex: How to address the health care worker shortage (Root/Golubev, 6/18).

Financial Times: Charities explore IP protection to shield status (Murray, 6/18).

Financial Times: Pandemic reopens wounds on IP rights (Croft, 6/18).

Nature: Coronavirus misinformation, and how scientists can help to fight it (Fleming, 6/17).

NPR: Amid Confusion About Reopening, An Expert Explains How To Assess COVID-19 Risk (Gross, 6/17).

Reuters: Namibia faces red locust invasion (Nyaungwa, 6/17).

Scientific American: Genetic Diversity of Malaria in a Single Mosquito Bite May Be Huge (Callier, 6/1).

U.S. News & World Report: U.S. UNICEF Chief: Children the ‘Silent Victims’ of COVID-19 (Haynie, 6/17).

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Editorials and Opinions

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of COVID-19, Including Vaccine Access, Role Of Health Workers, Global, Public Health Leadership

The Conversation: How ‘vaccine nationalism’ could block vulnerable populations’ access to COVID-19 vaccines
Ana Santos Rutschman, assistant professor of law at Saint Louis University (6/17).

Devex: Local and faithful — how a global refugee agency can be effective
Raphael Marcus, senior vice president for programs at HIAS (6/18).

Devex: Leaving no-one behind — investing and empowering
Susannah Schaefer, president and CEO of Smile Train, and Larry H. Hollier Jr., chair of the Global Medical Advisory Board for Smile Train and member of the Board of Advisors for the Duke Global Health Institute (6/18).

POLITICO: Here’s How Trump Could Beat the Rap On the Pandemic
John F. Harris, POLITICO founding editor (6/18).

Project Syndicate: The Pandemic Must End Our Complacency
Bertrand Badré, CEO of Blue like an Orange Sustainable Capital, and Yves Tiberghien, co-chair of the Vision 20 Initiative and professor of political science and director emeritus of the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia (6/18).

STAT: An ‘America first’ pharma supply chain sounds good. But it won’t work
Michael Rea, founder and CEO of Rx Savings Solutions (6/17).

USA TODAY: Another coronavirus danger: Harassment of public health leaders poses new threat
Trevor Wrobleski, recent graduate of Johns Hopkins University, and Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean of public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (6/17).

Washington Post: Mike Pence is a case study in irresponsibility
Editorial Board (6/17).

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Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss DFID Merger, Race Issues Within Aid Sector, Global Malaria, Prioritizing Children In Development

Devex: The hustle — white saviors and hashtag activism
Angela Bruce-Raeburn, regional advocacy director for Africa at the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (6/12).

Devex: On the abolition of DFID
Clare Short, DFID’s founding secretary of state (6/16).

Foreign Policy: Malaria May Still Be 2020’s Biggest Killer
Tim Hirschel-Burns, J.D. candidate at Yale Law School (6/12).

The Guardian: The aid sector must do more to tackle its white supremacy problem
Anonymous, international aid worker who has worked at a senior level for U.N. agencies and NGOs for a decade (6/15).

The Guardian: DfID is a world leader in tackling poverty. Our international standing is weakened without it
Mikaela Gavas, co-director of development cooperation in Europe and senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Rachael Calleja, CGD senior research associate (6/17).

Project Syndicate: Sustainable Development Starts with Children
Helen Clark, Board chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (PMNCH) (6/17).

The Telegraph: DfID reform was long overdue
Editorial Board (6/17).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Blog Posts, Releases Discuss COVID-19's Impacts On Health Systems, Services, Children, Refugees

Center for Global Development: Understanding the Impact Of COVID-19 On Essential Medicine Supply Chains
Anthony McDonnell, senior policy analyst at CGD, and colleagues (6/17).

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Global Fund Survey: Majority of HIV, TB and Malaria Programs Face Disruptions as a Result of COVID-19 (6/17).

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: New Modeling Study Estimates the Potential Impact of a COVID-19 Outbreak in Bangladesh Refugee Camps (6/16).

ODI: Dealing with Covid-19 in rural Africa: lessons from previous crises
Steve Wiggins, principal research fellow with ODI, and colleagues (June 2020).

U.N.: Battling COVID-19 misinformation hands-on (June 2020).

UNDP: In Bosnia and Herzegovina, study projects deepening pandemic impact (6/17).

UNICEF: Keep the well-being of children at the center of COVID-19 response and recovery (6/18).

World Bank: Investing in Africa’s People Yields Impact, Strengthens Efforts to Beat Pandemic (6/17).

World Economic Forum: We’re ‘finished’ if we don’t change after coronavirus, warns naturalist Jane Goodall
Harry Kretchmer, senior writer for Formative Content (6/17).

World Economic Forum: The plight of Peru illustrates the danger of COVID-19 to developing countries
John Letzing, digital editor for strategic intelligence at the World Economic Forum (6/17).

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Briefing Addresses Health Needs Of Women, Girls Globally

Friends of the Global Fight: Health as a Catalyst for Women’s Equality: An Agenda for Action
“On June 16, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Friends), CARE International, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), and Global Health Council (GHC) hosted a web-based briefing aimed at a Capitol Hill and policy audience on the health needs of women and girls globally.” Speakers included: U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.); Chris Collins, president of Friends of the Global Fight; Loyce Pace, president and executive director of the Global Health Council; Angeli Achrekar, principal deputy coordinator of the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Global Health Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State; Roopa Dhatt, co-founder and executive director of Women in Global Health; Janet Fleischman, senior associate with the CSIS Global Health Policy Center; Jen Kates, senior vice president and director of Global Health & HIV Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation; and Maurine Murenga, board member with the communities delegation for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. A video of the briefing is available (6/17).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID Announces New Investments To Address Gender-Based Violence In Environmental Programs

USAID: USAID Announces New Investments to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence in Environmental Programs
This press releases discusses the five winners of USAID’s Resilient, Inclusive, and Sustainable Environments (RISE) Challenge, all of whom aim to address gender-based violence in environmental programs, noting, “The winners will receive a total of $1.2 million in grants from USAID to implement and test solutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republics of Colombia, Fiji, and Uganda. … USAID, through our Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and the Environment, aims to incentivize partnerships between organizations that are working on the environment and on equality between women and men and women’s empowerment. The Agency works to fund promising approaches that address GBV in programs that focus on the access, use, control, and management of natural resources” (6/17).

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From KFF

KFF Provides Resources On Global, Domestic Aspects Of COVID-19 Pandemic

KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker — Updated as of June 18, 2020
Data on country government actions in response to COVID-19 are included in the tracker (6/18).

Additional KFF COVID-19 resources on the global situation, as well as those focused on the response and impact within the U.S., are available here. KFF’s blog series “Coronavirus Policy Watch” is available here.

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