KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.N. Deputy High Commissioner For Human Rights Criticizes U.S. Domestic, International Abortion Policies

The Guardian: U.S. abortion policy is ‘extremist hate’ and ‘torture,’ says U.N. commissioner
“The U.S. policy on abortion is a form of extremist hate that amounts to the torture of women, the U.N. deputy high commissioner for human rights told The Guardian. … ‘We have not called it out in the same way we have other forms of extremist hate, but this is gender-based violence against women, no question,’ Kate Gilmore said. ‘It’s clear it’s torture – it’s a deprivation of a right to health,’ she warned, pointing out that the committee of experts assigned to monitor the implementation of the nine core U.N. human rights instruments have each ‘independently declared the absolute prohibition of abortion … is against human rights.’ Gilmore, appointed deputy high commissioner in 2015, said the banning of abortion in some U.S. states and the attempts by the Trump administration to remove language from key international documents was ‘deeply distressing’…” (Ford, 6/4).

Quartz: The U.S. is to blame for global erosion of human rights, says top U.N. official
“… ‘When the United States starts to sneeze under the force of the pneumonia of afactual, illegal, and ascientific policy, everybody starts to catch the same cold,’ said Kate Gilmore, United Nations deputy high commissioner for human rights, [Monday] at the Women Deliver conference in Vancouver, Canada. Gilmore spoke at length about the Trump administration’s decision to reinstate a ‘global gag rule,’ [also known as the Mexico City policy] which denies U.S. government [global health] aid to … [foreign non-governmental] organizations who perform abortions or give information about the procedure. The Trump administration has also championed abortion rights rollbacks domestically … Activists have said these policies will strip vulnerable women both in the U.S. and abroad of badly needed family planning services and lead to an increase in unsafe abortions…” (Timsit, 6/3).

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Canada PM Trudeau Condemns Politicians Campaigning To Reverse Women's Rights Worldwide In Speech At Women Deliver

The Telegraph: Justin Trudeau says ‘gender equality is under attack’ in swipe at Donald Trump
“Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned politicians who give into growing pressure and ‘shamelessly campaign’ to reverse women’s rights around the world, in a thinly veiled swipe on the policies of his neighbor Donald Trump. Speaking at the Women Deliver conference in Vancouver — dubbed the world’s largest event on women’s health and equality, with some 8,000 attendees — the Canadian prime minister criticized the global ‘pushback’ against women’s rights. … Mr. Trudeau made his comments on the same day as the launch of a report on gender equality around the world which found that no country is on track to achieve this by 2030. Some 40 per cent of the world’s girls and women – 1.4 billion – live in countries failing on gender equality. … Mr. Trudeau was not alone in condemning a darkening global environment for women, a major talking point at the conference. In particular, concerns about the long-term consequences of the U.S. government’s controversial ‘global gag rule’ are rife…” (Newey, 6/4).

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Inter Press Service Examines Access To Abortion, Reproductive Rights Worldwide

Inter Press Service: An Escalating War on Reproductive Rights
“Abortion has long been a contentious issue across the world, and the debate is only heating up, prompting women to stand up and speak out for their reproductive rights. In response to increasingly restrictive policies, civil society is taking action to help protect abortion rights…” (Yakupitiyage, 6/3).

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Mothers, Newborns At Risk Of Health Complications Due To Exorbitant Health Care Costs, Lack Of Access To Health Workers, UNICEF Report Says

U.N. News: ‘Catastrophic’ health care costs put mothers and newborns at risk
“Pregnant women are putting their lives and their babies at risk because of ‘catastrophic’ and prohibitive health care costs before, during, and after childbirth, UNICEF said on Monday. In a new report highlighting how few of the world’s poorest pregnant women have a doctor, nurse, or midwife at their side when they need them most, the U.N. Children’s Fund said that more than 800 women die every day from complications, while many more mothers live with ‘debilitating’ outcomes…” (6/3).

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Number Of Ebola Cases In DRC Hits 2K; Aid Agencies Warn Outbreak Continues To Evade Control Due To Violence, Mistrust

CIDRAP News: Ebola hits 2,000 cases as vaccine OK’d in some pregnant, lactating women
“[Monday] the Ebola case count in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [likely surpassed] 2,000 cases, a new milestone ushered in by heavy transmission in May, by a good measure the most active month in this outbreak. Over the weekend, the ministry of health in the DRC recorded 20 new cases of the virus, and reports on Twitter suggest the ministry will announce 14 more cases [Monday]. If confirmed, the cases will raise the outbreak total to 2,008 cases…” (Soucheray, 6/3).

CNN: Almost 2,000 Ebola cases confirmed in DR Congo as crisis worsens
“…Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) said sporadic violence by armed militias, limited health care resources and difficult-to-access locations meant this outbreak was taking place in one of the ‘most challenging circumstances ever confronted by WHO’…” (Hauser/Hunt, 6/4).

The Guardian: DRC Ebola cases pass 2,000, prompting call for ‘total reset’
“…Aid agencies, infectious disease experts, and the WHO say it will be very hard to bring this outbreak under control, even though they have had vaccines and experimental drugs from the outset…” (Burke, 6/4).

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Taliban Bans Health Workers In Parts Of Afghanistan, Accusing Them Of Spying To Inform U.S. Drone Strikes

The Telegraph: U.S. drone strikes cause Afghan Taliban to turn on vaccine workers amid ‘spy’ claims
“Taliban commanders have banned health workers including polio vaccinators from swathes of Afghanistan after accusing them of collecting intelligence used to target militant leaders with drones and other air strikes. The insurgent movement has blocked both the World Health Organization and Red Cross from operating in areas under their control. Its military commission alleges internationally backed health workers collect information used to find and kill Taliban leaders in special forces raids and air strikes. America has dramatically ramped up air strikes since Donald Trump vowed to pursue a more aggressive campaign in Afghanistan in 2017…” (Farmer, 6/3).

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Health Workers Call For End To Targeting Of Syrian Hospitals In Open Letter

The Guardian: Stop the carnage: doctors call for an end to Syria hospital airstrikes
“Dozens of prominent doctors have called for urgent action to halt the bombing campaign by Syrian and Russian planes that has targeted more than 20 hospitals in Syria’s north-west, putting many out of action and leaving millions of people without proper health care. … The Syrian opposition were promised war planes would avoid identified sites on bombing raids; instead they have endured more than a month of fierce attacks. … They have also destroyed key parts of the health care system, says a letter from doctors around the world published in the Observer…” (Graham-Harrison/McKernan, 6/2).

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Gene Mutations Conferring HIV Protection Might Shorten Lifespan, Study Shows; Scientists Warn Against Gene Edits Using CRISPR

Nature: Gene edits to ‘CRISPR babies’ might have shortened their life expectancy
“The scientist who edited the genomes of twin girls in an attempt to make them resistant to HIV might have inadvertently shortened their life expectancy. People with two disabled copies of the CCR5 gene — the version that protects against HIV infection — are 21% more likely to die before the age of 76 than are people with at least one working copy of the gene, according to a study published on 3 June in Nature Medicine. The reason for the discrepancy is unknown…” (Reardon, 6/3).

Additional coverage of the study is available from The Atlantic, Financial Times, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Scientific American, STAT, and WIRED.

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More News In Global Health

Agence France-Presse: Nearly half of rural Afghans face food insecurity: U.N. (6/3).

Global Health NOW: The Road’s Toll: How to Reduce 1.35 Million Traffic Deaths (Simpson, 6/3).

The Hill: U.N. ratings find no countries on track to achieve gender equality by 2030 (Rodrigo, 6/3).

New Humanitarian: Why Rohingya women risk dangerous home births in Bangladesh’s refugee camps (Kumar, 6/3).

New York Times: Sweden Finds a Simple Way to Improve New Mothers’ Health. It Involves Fathers (Miller, 6/4).

NPR: As Bombs Fall, A Neurosurgeon Tells How He Keeps Calm In Syria (Cole, 6/3).

Reuters: Nipah virus resurfaces in India’s Kerala after killing 17 last year (Vengattil, 6/4).

SciDev.Net: Pakistan seeks global help to tackle HIV outbreak (Shaikh, 6/3).

STAT: Measles outbreaks put U.S. at risk of losing prized ‘elimination’ status (Branswell, 6/4).

Washington Post: The surprisingly true comparison between infant mortality in Ohio and Iran (Rizzo, 6/4).

Xinhua News: Africa faces many challenges in HIV prevention and treatment: envoy (6/4).

Xinhua News: HIV infection on rise in one-third of E.U. countries: envoy (6/4).

Xinhua News: China makes headway in improving maternal, newborn health (6/3).

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Editorials and Opinions

International Community Must Continue To Work To Maintain Progress Against Cholera

Project Syndicate: Maintaining the Momentum Against Cholera
Anita Zaidi, director of vaccine development, surveillance, and enteric and diarrheal diseases programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…[I]n the past 18 months, the world has made significant strides in the fight against cholera. … It is possible that historians will remember 2019 as the beginning of the end of cholera, but much depends on our efforts in the next few years. For starters, global health donors must step up to ensure that [Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance] is fully funded in the next strategic investment period (2021-2025). This support is critical not only for ending cholera, but also for achieving all of our health-related goals. The routine immunization that Gavi provides is essential to building strong primary health care systems and reaching universal coverage. Second, cholera-affected countries must … [work] with the World Health Organization on a cholera control plan to help governments unlock resources and receive technical assistance, including the oral cholera vaccine. … There is much more to be done, including making major investments in sustainable water, sanitation, hygiene services, improved disease surveillance, and stronger health systems. Fortunately, the return on these investments will be immense. We can both eliminate cholera and make progress toward managing or eliminating a wide range of waterborne diseases, all of which is necessary for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. Where one lives should not determine whether one lives. But until we eliminate cholera deaths, that will be the tragic reality facing vulnerable communities across the Global South” (6/4).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

New Lancet Series Discusses How Gender Inequality, Social Norms Impact Health

Stanford Medicine’s “Scope”: Gender inequality and rigid norms linked with poor health, global research shows
Erin Digitale, pediatrics writer at Stanford Medicine’s Office of Communication and Public Affairs, highlights a new series of papers published in The Lancet that discuss the impact of gender inequalities and norms on health, including an accompanying editorial by Melinda Gates. “The series was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and by the United Arab Emirates government, and was led by Stanford global health expert Gary Darmstadt, MD,” Digitale notes, adding that Darmstadt discusses the health effects of gender inequality on Stanford Medicine’s 1:2:1 podcast with host Paul Costello (5/31).

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CGD Experts Highlight 3 Issues For Global Family Planning Movement To Consider Post-2020

Center for Global Development’s “CGD Notes”: After 2020: What’s Next for Global Access to Family Planning
Felice Apter, visiting fellow at CGD, and colleagues preview the Women Deliver conference, taking place this week in Vancouver, Canada, and highlight “three issues for the global [family planning (FP)] movement post-2020, building on CGD’s engagement in this space, including our working group on alignment in family planning. We review the underlying critical assumptions in FP2020’s initial design along with their strengths and weaknesses, and place future approaches squarely within the context of today’s evolving landscape — one that looks very different than the year 2012, when FP2020 was launched…” (5/31).

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New U.N. Secretary General Report Outlines 'Growing Momentum' To Achieve UHC, End AIDS Epidemic

UNAIDS: Galvanizing global ambition to end the AIDS epidemic after a decade of progress
“A new report from the United Nations Secretary General, ‘Galvanizing global ambition to end the AIDS epidemic after a decade of progress,’ has been presented to United Nations Member States during the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. … The report outlines that there is an important opportunity to seize the growing momentum to achieve universal health coverage, a core principle of which is leaving no one behind. … In the report, the United Nations Secretary General urges Member States to adopt … recommendations to galvanize political will, accelerate action, and build the momentum necessary to reach the 2020 targets agreed to by the United Nations General Assembly in the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS…” (6/3).

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FHI 360 Expert Discusses How Realist Evaluation Methods Help Inform Economic Strengthening, HIV Prevention Programming

FHI 360’s “R&E Search for Evidence”: ASPIRES’ realist evaluation approach to building the evidence base for household economic strengthening to reduce HIV vulnerability
Emily Namey, associate director for the behavioral, epidemiological, and clinical sciences division for Global Health, Population and Nutrition at FHI 360 and research and evaluation specialist for the ASPIRES project, describes the ASPIRES project, “focused on household economic strengthening for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and other populations made vulnerable by HIV.” Namey discusses the integration of USAID- and PEPFAR-supported household economic strengthening (HES) into ASPIRES HIV programming, evaluation methods, and lessons learned (5/30).

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Science Speaks Examines CDC Report On Index Testing For HIV In 20 PEPFAR Countries

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: CDC: Across 20 PEPFAR countries, index testing for HIV doubled diagnosis rates
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer at “Science Speaks,” discusses findings from a recently published CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) report on scaling up HIV testing among exposed partners and children of people living with the virus in PEPFAR-supported countries. Barton notes that according to the study, “Tracing and offering HIV tests to exposed partners and children of people living with the virus led to twice the rate of positive tests than all other HIV testing interventions combined across 20 countries between 2016 to 2018” (6/3).

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June 2019 Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

WHO: Bulletin of the World Health Organization
The June 2019 WHO Bulletin features articles on various topics, including an editorial on health systems research in fragile settings, a policy article on universal health coverage and primary care in Thailand, and a perspective piece on the right to water, sanitation, and hygiene with a focus on gender equality (June 2019).

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