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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

HHS Secretary Reiterates President Trump's Commitment To Not Funding, Supporting Abortion In U.S. House Committee Hearing

Rewire.News: HHS Secretary Praised for Stringent Abortion Regulations at House Committee Hearing
“During a congressional hearing Wednesday, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar testified in front of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce on the ‘policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.’ Azar spoke on a number of issues, ranging from the global gag rule (GGR) on abortion to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) … During the committee hearing, Azar reiterated President Trump’s commitment to ‘not funding, supporting, and subsidizing organizations that refer for or support abortion’…” (Vasquez, 6/6).

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Global Health Experts Welcome Trump Administration's Reversal On Proposed Rescission Of Ebola Funds

HuffPost: Trump Walks Back A Disastrous Ebola Funding Cut And Experts Sigh In Relief
“The Trump administration has walked back its proposal to reclaim $252 million in unspent Ebola funds on Tuesday, which experts lauded as a welcome shift in the administration’s approach to global health leadership — especially amid the new Ebola outbreak. … [T]he contribution of $8 million [to help in the response to the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo] and the withdrawal of the rescission proposal are quelling some fears that the U.S. is ceding health security leadership on the global stage…” (Weber, 6/6).

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DRC Approves Use Of Experimental Ebola Drugs As 5 New Possible Cases Identified

CIDRAP News: DRC probes 5 new possible Ebola cases; WHO details experimental drugs
“Outbreak responders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are investigating five more suspected Ebola cases, as two more patients died from their infections and the World Health Organization (WHO) shared more details about how experimental treatments will be used and studied among those sickened by the virus. … The developments raise the outbreak total to 58, which includes 37 confirmed, 14 probable, and seven suspected cases. The two new fatalities lift the number of deaths to 27…” (Schnirring, 6/6).

CNN: Experimental drugs approved for use in Congo Ebola outbreak
“Five experimental drugs have been approved for use on patients in the Ebola outbreak underway in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The treatments were allowed Monday by a Congo ethics committee on the grounds of compassionate use…” (Senthilingam, 6/6).

The Hill: Ebola outbreak appears to be slowing in Congo as vaccines spread
“Early signs suggest that an Ebola outbreak in Congo, which has killed 27 people since erupting in a remote rural village two months ago, is being contained before it can spread further…” (Wilson, 6/6).

Wall Street Journal: Experimental Ebola Treatments Approved for the Democratic Republic of Congo
“…The experimental treatments — only two of which have been tested in humans — could bring another major change to the world’s response to Ebola, which killed more than 11,300 people across West Africa between 2014 and 2016 and is deadly for one in two people who catch it…” (Bariyo, 6/6).

Xinhua News: New test drugs to be used to treat Ebola in DRC: WHO
“…Clinicians working in the treatment centers will make decisions on which drug to use as deemed helpful for their patients, and appropriate for the setting. The treatments can be used as long as informed consent is obtained from patients and protocols are followed, with close monitoring and reporting of any adverse events…” (6/7).

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Study Examines PrEP, Condom Use Among Gay, Bisexual Men In Australia

NBC News: A side-effect of preventing HIV with PrEP: Less condom use
“A pill that protects people from the AIDS virus may be driving down use of condoms, Australian researchers reported Wednesday. They found that as more people used the daily pill, called PrEP, the less likely they were to use condoms…” (Fox, 6/6).

The Guardian: Rapid rise in anti-HIV PrEP pills linked to drop in condom use
“…[T]he new study, published in The Lancet HIV journal, raises serious questions about the introduction of PrEP in developing countries with high levels of infection without a strong package of educational support to encourage condom use…” (Boseley, 6/6).

Science: A pill that protects people from HIV may also lead to more sex without condoms
“…The study … surveyed nearly 17,000 men who have sex with men in Sydney and Melbourne between 2013 and 2017. Use of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP — daily antiretroviral pills taken by uninfected people — during the study years jumped from two percent of the HIV-negative participants to 24 percent. In the same time frame, ‘consistent’ condom use dropped from 46 percent to 31 percent in men who reported having anal sex with casual partners…” (Cohen, 6/6).

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More News In Global Health

Associated Press: South Sudan’s latest civil war atrocities kept out of sight (Mednick, 6/6).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Signal sending chip wins prize for new technology to protect women (Wulfhorst, 6/7).

VOA News: Cuban Doctors Arrive in Kenya, to Chagrin of Doctors Union (Ombuor, 6/6).

Xinhua News: Cholera cases in Nigerian state surpasses 1,000 (6/6).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Military Presence In Africa 'Displacing Diplomacy'

Washington Post: The future is African — and the United States is not prepared
Salih Booker, executive director, and Ari Rickman, research fellow, both at the Center for International Policy

“…[I]nstead of preparing to build a relationship that can grow with the continent, based upon diplomatic cooperation, the United States is doubling down on more than a decade of reliance on its military as the primary vehicle of engaging with Africa. The consequences, as one might expect, are overwhelmingly negative. … Africa’s rapid change … presents challenges that will not be contained within the continent. … [T]he United States’ relationship with the continent has, since 9/11, been increasingly defined by the militarization of U.S. foreign policy. … This growing military presence is displacing diplomacy. … [T]he military can’t be the foundation of U.S. relations with a rising Africa. … Simply put, the U.S. military is attempting to prepare African countries to fight an enemy they actually may not have … while the U.S. government is failing to help those same countries deal with the real killers — namely, poverty and corruption” (6/6).

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To Be Truly Effective, SDGs Should Address, Advance Democracy

Quartz: How the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals undermine democracy
Jeffrey Smith, founding director of Vanguard Africa, and Alex Gladstein, chief strategy officer of the Human Rights Foundation

“…Billions of dollars of investment have been spent and donated to [the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)]. … There is one glaring problem: the SDGs are pushing an agenda carefully calibrated to avoid upsetting the world’s dictators, kleptocrats, and this century’s worst human rights offenders. Search the 17 SDGs and you will fail to find a single mention of the word ‘democracy.’ Out of thousands of words of text, ‘human rights’ is mentioned merely once (and not as its own category, but as a secondary bullet point). … In other words, the basic freedoms that underpin and advance human development are missing from the SDG equation. … Until we collectively focus on the true building blocks of democracy, abusive leaders and dictators will continue to be feted at glitzy conferences, pat each other on the back with a wink and a nod, and maintain a brutal level of repression against their own people. What’s more, the repression will continue to proliferate under a faulty and counterproductive guise of ‘development.’ It is time to change course” (6/7).

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Rights-Based Approach Necessary To Advance Sexual, Reproductive Health

Devex: Opinion: We can’t advance health without advancing rights
Kate Gilmore, U.N. deputy high commissioner for human rights

“…When it comes to sexual and reproductive health and rights, at times progress has met resistance and even outright hostility. … In many places, stigma and shame still dominate what should be dignifying access to essential services and commodities. Yet, sexual and reproductive health and rights are firmly grounded in international human rights standards. … [R]espect for and protection of human rights are indispensable. Countries should work systematically toward guaranteeing in law, policy, and practice the essential package of sexual and reproductive health interventions for their entire population, specifically so that people and communities can receive those services without stigma, discrimination, or financial hardship…” (6/6).

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While Abortion Legal In South Africa, Country Experiences Lack Of Political Will To Uphold Law

The Guardian: It takes more than pro-choice laws to end deaths from unsafe abortions
Tlaleng Mofokeng, doctor and sexual and reproductive health and rights activist

“…There are several reasons why abortion service provision has essentially ground to a halt despite South Africa’s liberal abortion law. The formal health system does as little as it can to comply with the law. … There is little political will to uphold the law. … We cannot ignore the role the U.S. has played in limiting South Africa’s legal milestones. The Mexico City policy, also known as the ‘global gag rule,’ denies foreign organizations receiving U.S. government funds the right to provide information, referrals, or services for legal abortions. Trump’s expansion of the rule further restricts NGOs [from] using their own funds to save lives. This will lead to preventable deaths and life-long ill health from complications due to unsafe procedures…” (6/6).

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New Bill On Reproductive Rights In Nepal Could Help Improve Health, Lives Of Nepalese Women, Girls

Inter Press Service: Nepal: Where Abortion is Treated as Homicide
Sabin Shrestha, executive director of the Forum for Women, Law, and Development (FWLD)

“…A new bill on reproductive rights has been recently approved in principle by the Office of the Prime Minister and Ministers Council, which will respond to the concerns highlighted by our Supreme Court nine years ago and will separate reproductive rights as a distinct legal issue. It will ensure that women have much better access to information on their rights and that a fund is set up for women who cannot access free abortions, carried out by only qualified health personnel. We are hopeful that the government will formally enact this into law in the coming months, which will also finally make it impossible to convict a woman of homicide if she has an abortion or suffers a miscarriage. This would provide a context for securing the release of those who are still in prison for very unfair reasons and transform the futures of millions of Nepalese women and girls” (6/6).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CGD Visiting Fellow Presents Case Against Branding Development Aid In Post-Conflict, Low-Income Countries

Center for Global Development: The Case Against Branding Development Aid in Fragile States
CGD Visiting Fellow W. Gyude Moore, former minister of public works in Liberia, makes a case against the branding of development aid in post-conflict, low-income countries, writing, “[E]ven though significant resources have been poured into branding, its benefits are iffy at best and counterproductive at worst. Studies of its impact tend to pay little attention to how branding affects the relationship between recipient governments and their publics, but evidence shows that it can have corrosive systemic impacts…” (6/5).

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Advocates At U.N. Hearing Call For More Political Will To End TB

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: Tuberculosis advocates demand accelerated global response at United Nations
Rabita Aziz, writer at “Science Speaks” and senior global health policy specialist at IDSA, discusses the recent civil society hearing of the U.N. High-Level Meeting on Ending TB, scheduled for September 26. Aziz notes, “Advocates agreed … that the biggest challenge isn’t a scientific or medical one — it’s a lack of political will to tackle the world’s biggest infectious disease killer” (6/6).

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HRW, UNICEF Q&A, Press Release Address DRC Ebola Response

Human Rights Watch: DR Congo: Respect Rights in Ebola Response
“The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo should ensure human rights protections in controlling the recent Ebola outbreak, Human Rights Watch said [Wednesday] in releasing a question-and-answer document about the response to the virus. … The Congolese government should limit the use of quarantines, make protection of health workers and women a priority, and ensure effective oversight and monitoring, Human Rights Watch said…” (6/6).

UNICEF: More than 300,000 people reached with awareness-raising campaign to contain deadly Ebola outbreak in DRC
“Since the start of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), UNICEF and its partners have reached more than 300,000 people with lifesaving information about how to avoid contracting the deadly virus, as part of an ongoing awareness-raising campaign targeting more than 800,000 people across the affected areas…” (6/5).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID Newsletter Focuses On Private Sector Engagement In Global Health

USAID’s “Global Health News”: Private Sector Engagement
USAID’s May 2018 newsletter focuses on engaging the private sector in global health efforts. “In recent years, we have seen a shift in the approach to development with increased focus on how donors can better engage the private sector to achieve greater impact and scale. In global health, we have many successful partnerships with the private sector that help us save and improve lives…” (May 2018).

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