KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Mexico City Policy Harming Access To Health Care In Developing Countries, CHANGE Report Says

ABC News: Trump’s ‘global gag rule’ cutting off health care in Africa: Report
“The Trump administration’s abortion policy on foreign aid [for global health] is having a devastating effect in local communities that require medical assistance, according to a new report. Investigators from the Center for Health and Gender Equity, or CHANGE, issued a report Tuesday on what’s known as the ‘Mexico City policy’ or the ‘global gag rule’ — what the Trump administration calls ‘Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance.’ … Trump’s policy is an expansion of past Republican presidents in that it now affects all global health funds … for groups that do family planning, reproductive health, and maternal and child health care, but also those that target HIV/AIDS, infectious diseases, malaria, nutrition, tuberculosis, and more. … The report demonstrates that the new restrictions have led to cutbacks for groups on the ground, many of whom are reliant on U.S. funding…” (Finnegan, 6/6).

Devex: An atmosphere of fear under ‘global gag rule’ shows comprehensive new report
“…Under the expanded version of the ‘global gag rule’ introduced by United States President Donald Trump soon after his inauguration in January 2017, foreign NGOs that receive any U.S. global health assistance are prohibited from performing or promoting ‘abortion as a method of family planning.’ That includes offering legal advice or counseling related to abortion. … The CHANGE report released Tuesday at an event in Washington, D.C., is titled ‘Prescribing Chaos in Global Health,’ and outlines a history of impacts of the ‘global gag rule’ and some of the adverse effects seen since Trump reinstated the policy — including for some countries a clash between local law and the gag rule, and in some cases, a lack of ability to work with the best partners. The paper is the latest in a string of reports from different organizations tracking the policy’s impacts. The U.S. government is also conducting reviews, the first of which, a six-month review, was released in February…” (Saldinger/Cornish, 6/6).

Rewire.News: Report: Trump’s Global Gag Rule ‘Downright Catastrophic for Global Health’
“… ‘When the GGR is in effect, it creates and exploits inefficiencies in health care delivery and causes harm to beneficiaries, who may not be aware that their fate is being determined by what is essentially a political football in Washington, D.C.,’ the report’s authors concluded. … The report predicts that the expanded policy will not reduce abortions but only increase the stigma of abortion and the number of unsafe illegal abortions. … CHANGE spoke to officials from government agencies and NGOs who worry that ‘the chaos that has accompanied each iteration of the GGR has now been magnified by Trump’s expanded version.’ As CHANGE discovered, the expanded gag rule has created confusion for both NGOs attempting to comply with the policy and for the government officials tasked with implementing it…” (Wilson, 6/5).

U.S. News & World Report: Report Slams Trump’s Abortion ‘Gag Rule’
“…The policy … is having wide-reaching effects, including shutting down funding to some nongovernmental organizations that served as the sole source of health care in developing countries hard-hit by sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies, according to the report … ‘The untenable choice foreign NGOs face — either to stop conducting abortion-related work or lose their U.S. funding — is only the beginning of the GGR’s far-reaching impacts,’ according to the report. ‘Both paths lead to actual cuts to health services and information, often resulting in irreparable damage for people and entire communities’… Subsequent confusion regarding which organizations are subject to the ban has prompted some ‘to over-interpret it for fear of being found non-compliant,’ according to the report…” (Shinkman, 6/5).

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White House Rolls Back Proposal To Cut $252M In Leftover Emergency Ebola Funding

Associated Press: White House drops plan to cut Ebola funding
“Seeking to revive a $15 billion plan to pare back spending that has languished on Capitol Hill, the White House on Tuesday dropped a proposal to cut $252 million in leftover funding to fight the Ebola virus in Africa. The move came as President Donald Trump took to Twitter to pitch the package of spending cuts, which still faces an uphill struggle in Congress. ‘The HISTORIC Rescissions Package we’ve proposed would cut $15,000,000,000 in Wasteful Spending! We are getting our government back on track,’ Trump tweeted. An Ebola outbreak in Congo led the administration to rethink the cuts…” (Taylor, 6/5).

The Hill: White House walks back proposal to cut Ebola funds
“…The White House initially said the cuts were justified because the outbreak had largely concluded. But health groups argued the money should remain untouched in case of another outbreak. ‘We cannot afford another situation where it takes months for the United States to respond to a global outbreak of a deadly nature,’ the American Society for Microbiology wrote in a letter last month to House leadership…” (Hellmann, 6/5).

Roll Call: Tweaked Trump Cuts Request Restores EPA, Ebola, Sandy Funds
“…The Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to Capitol Hill proposing to reduce the size of the cuts by a combined $515 million, with nearly half of that coming from restoration of $252 million in unspent funds that could potentially be used to combat a renewed Ebola virus outbreak overseas. Democrats have cited the recent Ebola resurgence in the Democratic Republic of Congo as reason to blast Republicans for considering the cuts. … ‘Today’s supplementary special message to the president’s first rescissions package includes several technical and policy updates based on continued administration analysis and discussions with Members of Congress,’ a senior administration official said in a statement…” (Shutt, 6/5).

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Gender Equality To Top Agenda At G7 Summit, Host Canada Says

Globe and Mail: Trudeau says gender equality will be top priority at G7 summit despite concern about Trump’s distractions
“The Trudeau government says gender equality will be a top priority as a reachable goal at the G7 leaders’ summit in Quebec this week, despite concerns Canada’s agenda could be overshadowed by tensions between U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders over trade and tariffs. … Leaders of the G7 countries — Canada, the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, and Japan — will attend a breakfast meeting with the G7 gender equality advisory council, created by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a part of Canada’s G7 presidency, on Saturday morning in Charlevoix. The advisory council, a group of high-profile feminist leaders, recently submitted a report to the G7 calling on member states to promote the rights of women and girls by taking concrete action to ensure pay equity, the expansion of access to reproductive health services, and improved access to education for girls…” (Zilio, 6/5).

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Experts Call For Increased Political Will, Research To Reach WHO's End TB Goals

Devex: More political attention, research solutions needed for TB, experts say
“Lack of awareness and research solutions on eradicating the deadly, airborne disease tuberculosis is pushing global reduction targets out of reach, experts warned in New York last week. While TB deaths fell globally by 37 percent between 2000 and 2016, the bacterial disease remains one of the top 10 causes of deaths worldwide, responsible for 1.7 million lost lives in 2016. ‘Progress is too slow. Increasingly, the rate of the number of resistant TB cases is a challenge, along with gaps in investment and research,’ Tereza Kasaeva, director of the global tuberculosis program at the World Health Organization, explained to Devex…” (Lieberman, 6/6).

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DRC Health Ministry Clears Experimental Ebola Drugs For Testing; No New Cases Confirmed Since May 17

Bloomberg: New Ebola Outbreak May Open Door to Finding Drugs That Work
“As another outbreak of Ebola claims lives in central Africa, researchers are seeing within it a rare ray of hope: a chance to find a cure. For the first time, five experimental medicines are poised to undergo a real-life clinical trial against the virus at makeshift treatment centers in remote areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where most of the 53 [confirmed and suspected] cases originated. The country’s health ministry cleared all the treatments for use as of Monday…” (Fourcade/Kresge, 6/5).

VOA News: WHO: No New Cases of Ebola Confirmed into DRC Hotspots Since Mid-May
“The World Health Organization (WHO) reports no new cases of Ebola in the DR Congo’s Port City of Mbandaka and remote town of Bikoro have been confirmed since May 17. WHO says the last confirmed case was reported on May 30 in Itipo, a village in the area of Iboko. The total of confirmed cases stands at 37, including 25 deaths…” (Schlein, 6/6).

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Nipah Outbreak Death Toll Increases To 16; Researchers Warn Of Potential For Virus's Further Spread

Al Jazeera: India’s Kerala state on alert amid Nipah virus outbreak
“…Kerala’s Health Minister KK Shailaja told Al Jazeera on Monday that the state is on an ‘all-time alert’ to prevent the infectious disease — which causes acute respiratory problems or fatal brain swelling among humans — from spreading further. … The viral outbreak has resulted in the quarantine of 2,379 people in their homes in the southern state, health and government officials have said…” (Kayyalakkath, 6/5).

CNN: Nipah death toll rises to 16, but end of outbreak might be near
“The death toll from the outbreak of Nipah virus has risen to 16 in the southern Indian state of Kerala. More than 230 people have been tested for the virus, with 18 confirmed by state officials to have contracted it, according to Kerala’s Department of Health and Family Welfare. All 18 people were hospitalized and quarantined and the last two are currently in recovery…” (Gupta, 6/5).

HuffPost: Discovery Of Brain-Damaging Nipah In India Is Bellwether Of Potential Pandemic, Say Researchers
“…[R]esearchers at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law in the U.S. have warned that with cases of human to human transfer in India, there was a huge risk of [a Nipah] epidemic across the world. According to the report, published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, which was led by Daniel Lucey, MD, MPH, a senior scholar at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law, and Halsie Donaldson, MS, a medical student at Georgetown University School of Medicine, timelines for treatment of Nipah like vaccines, antiviral drugs, or immunotherapies need to be accelerated…” (Chatterji, 6/6).

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More News In Global Health

Associated Press: A look at Zika and its link to microcephaly (DiLorenzo, 6/6).

Devex: Q&A: Striking a balance between patients and profit (6/5).

The Guardian: David Miliband: world must step up support for Rohingya refugees (Watt, 6/5).

The Guardian: ‘Police never turned up’: El Salvador’s devastating epidemic of femicide (Griffin, 6/6).

Reuters: Scientists map genetic codes of 3,000 dangerous bacteria (Kelland, 6/6).

U.N. News: ‘Spotlight Initiative’ can make violence against women a thing of the past, says U.N. deputy chief (6/5).

U.N. News: Science, technology and innovation crucial to ‘transformative impact’ of Global Goals, U.N. forum hears (6/5).

VOA News: Challenges Hamper Polio Eradication in Pakistan (Khan, 6/4).

Xinhua News: Maternal death toll surpasses malaria, TB in West Africa (6/6).

Xinhua News: Kenya launches population-based HIV impact survey (6/5).

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Editorials and Opinions

Mexico City Policy Affects Health, Rights Of LGBT, Other Marginalized Populations

Advocate: The Collateral Damage of Trump’s Global Gag Rule: LGBT Rights
Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)

“…When the Trump administration attacks reproductive health providers with the global gag rule, [also known as the Mexico City policy or Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance,] by extension it attacks LGBT and other marginalized populations who may have nowhere else to access the health care they need and deserve. … Health care providers, not politicians, know what is best for their patients and families. It is wrong for the United States to force health care providers in other countries to choose between restricting the care they can provide to patients and keeping critical funding. If [U.S. Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo and the U.S. government are really interested in ‘protecting and defending’ the human rights of LGBT persons, they should start with ending the global gag rule” (6/5).

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Canada, PM Trudeau Must Lead G7 To Commit To Ensuring Education For All Children, Especially Girls

Globe and Mail: Real change for girls requires more than words at G7 summit
Michael Messenger, president and CEO of World Vision Canada; David Morley, president and CEO of UNICEF Canada; and Caroline Riseboro, president and CEO of Plan International Canada, with signatories Bill Chambers, president and CEO of Save the Children Canada; Christina Dendys, executive director of RESULTS Canada; and Kevin Frey, CEO of Right To Play International

“When we educate and empower children, especially girls, we break cycles of violence and conflict, reduce gender inequality, and promote tolerance and reconciliation. When we don’t, we risk a future full of violence, conflicts, and crises. This year’s G7 summit is an opportunity for Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to shape the future by leading the world in ensuring education for all children, especially girls. … Plan International Canada, RESULTS Canada, Right to Play, Save the Children, UNICEF Canada, World Vision, and several other Canadian and global organizations are rallying together to call on Mr. Trudeau and other world leaders at the G7 to raise CAD$1.3 billion to reach 3.7 million vulnerable children living in crisis situations with education, with a special emphasis on girls who face additional barriers due to their gender. … The world is looking to Canada for leadership. This is a moment that we cannot allow to pass us by…” (6/5).

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Opinion Pieces Discuss Impacts of Investing In, Empowering Women, Girls

Devex: Opinion: E.U. can stop the global rollback of girls’ rights
Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International

“…Girls’ rights are being challenged in so many countries in the world — even in Europe. It’s part of a general roll-back on human rights and a shrinking space for civil society. … Now is the time to take a stand against these regressive forces and the E.U. has a critical role to play. … To seize this chance, there are three things the E.U. needs to do. 1. Champion the rights of girls and women across the globe. … 2. Set an example for the world to follow. … 3. Invest in girls, both at home and abroad. … At Plan International, we have made it our mission to make sure 100 million girls learn, lead, decide, and thrive in the next five years. We hope the E.U. will stand shoulder to shoulder with us for girls…” (6/5).

Livemint: Adolescent girls as agents of change in communities
Ashok Alexander, founder-director of the Antara Foundation

“…Empowered with basic knowledge and training, adolescent girls … reinforce simple, but vital messages in their immediate neighborhoods. … They also become essential links between front-line health workers and beneficiaries. … There are many good programs in India that educate and empower adolescents. … However, hardly any program taps into adolescent girls as agents to empower the larger community. Our experiments in Rajasthan in creating the adolescent girls-community link have been encouraging. … The scalability of this innovation remains a challenge. … As we continue evolving our design, we welcome more ideas” (6/5).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CGD Commentary Examines Need To Address Causes Not Symptoms Of Poverty For Successful Development Cooperation

Center for Global Development: Aid in the National Interest: When is Development Cooperation Win-Win?
Owen Barder, vice president and director of CGD Europe and senior fellow at CGD, “identifies which types of development cooperation can be win-win, and which types of aid are seriously undermined by efforts to pursue the national interest — costing lives by reducing aid effectiveness.” Barder writes, “If our development cooperation is targeted mainly at the symptoms of poverty … it is hard to see how that can be made more directly in the national interest without giving up a lot of aid effectiveness. … But if we are aiming at reducing the causes of poverty … then there are more opportunities for development cooperation which are directly win-win. This kind of development cooperation is often not mainly about spending aid money, but rather about wider government policies which directly benefit both the U.K. and developing countries” (6/5).

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Blog Post Suggests Ways To Ensure Research Data Is Used To Help Inform Policy Decisions

Health Systems Global: How To Get Policymakers To Actually Use All That Data You Produce
Heather Cogswell, associate scientist and resource tracking specialist in the International Development Division at Abt Associates and member of the HSG Translating Evidence into Action TWG, discusses ways to ensure research data is used to inform policy decisions. Cogswell writes, “If you dream … of your data being taken up and used to actually inform decisions and policy … try this: Make sure there is a clear demand for your analysis. … Produce a high-quality analysis. … Actively promote the use of your data” (5/31).

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UNAIDS Releases Gender Action Plan To Advance Gender Equality, Empower Women Across UNAIDS Secretariat

UNAIDS: UNAIDS Secretariat launches Gender Action Plan 2018-2023
“UNAIDS has launched its new Gender Action Plan for 2018-2023. The plan builds on the progress achieved under the 2013-2018 plan, which provided a framework to advance gender equality and empower women across the UNAIDS Secretariat…” (6/5).

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Analysis Highlights Factors Influencing Women's Participation In PMTCT Services

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: Analysis highlights hurdles between pregnant women with HIV and treatment
In a guest post, Jennifer Yourkavitch, senior technical specialist at MEASURE Evaluation, discusses results from a causal loop analysis that suggests “[i]nteractions among poverty, gender, and health systems affect women’s participation in services to prevent HIV transmission from mother to child [(PMTCT)].” Yourkavitch writes, “Thus, we need flexible interventions that can work effectively in a complex environment” (6/5).

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