KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

White House Proposal To Cut State Department, USAID Budgets Faces Opposition From Lawmakers, Aid Organizations

Bloomberg Politics: State Department Faces Trump Funding Cut as Senators Resist
“President Donald Trump’s administration has proposed cutting funding to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development by more than a third in a move that drew immediate pushback from senators on both sides of the aisle…” (Wadhams/Wasson, 2/28).

Devex: Trump criticizes U.S. foreign spending, but proposed cuts to aid draw fierce opposition
“…As reports emerged that Trump’s budget proposed 37 percent cuts to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development — in part to offset significant increases to defense spending — many congressional leaders came out against the proposal. Republican Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, gave a nearly 20 minute speech on the floor of the Senate detailing his support for foreign aid and its importance both to the U.S. economy and to national security. … He was joined by other senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, who told reporters that the Senate would ‘probably not’ pass the proposed budget…” (Saldinger, 3/1).

Devex: USAID ‘working with’ White House to review budget priorities
“The U.S. Agency for International Development says it is working with the White House on reviewing budget priorities as President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal looks likely to include steep cuts to foreign aid. ‘We are working with the White House and OMB to review its budget priorities,’ a USAID spokesman told Devex in an email. ‘We remain committed to a U.S. foreign policy that advances the security and prosperity of the American people’…” (Saldinger, 2/28).

POLITICO: Source: Trump wants 37 percent budget cut to State, USAID
“…The proposal would likely require dramatic restructuring and staffing cuts at the two institutions most responsible for U.S. diplomacy and foreign aid, and it immediately faced bipartisan resistance in Congress. … Trump administration officials have indicated much of the cuts to State and USAID would target foreign aid programs. White House spokespeople did not have an immediate comment…” (Toosi/Everett, 2/28).

PRI: Eliminating the State Department entirely still wouldn’t cover Trump’s proposed hike in military spending
“…According to one former top State Department official, Trump’s math is all wrong. ‘If the president is looking for a $54 billion boost in defense spending, even if he wiped out the entire State Department, he wouldn’t find it,’ says Ambassador Wendy Sherman, a former undersecretary of state for political affairs who was the lead negotiator for the U.S. on the Iran nuclear deal. … Presently, foreign assistance makes up less than one percent of the total U.S. budget. Sherman says it’s a critical investment…” (2/28).

Wall Street Journal: Trump Proposes Cutting State Department Budget by 37%
“…Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) said he didn’t believe that a 37 percent cut would make it through Congress. ‘The diplomatic portion of the federal budget is very important and you get results a lot cheaper frequently,’ than through military spending, he said. … The proposed cuts also drew swift condemnation from aid and advocacy organizations. ‘A budget that slashes State Department and USAID funding, while further expanding the Pentagon, shows Trump is intent on undermining U.S. government agencies that address pressing human-rights issues, most of which aren’t dealt with by military force,’ said Sarah Margon, Washington director at Human Rights Watch…” (Schwartz/Peterson, 2/28).

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Global Fund Board Deliberating 'Various Options' To Continue Executive Director Search

Intellectual Property Watch: Global Fund Hits Reset On Executive Director Search
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is deliberating on how to start over on its search for a new executive director after questions arose near the end of the process. … The Board is meeting from 27-28 February. Global Fund press officer Seth Faison told Intellectual Property Watch [Tuesday] that ‘The Board is considering various options on restarting the process.’ He said they will provide more information when it is available…” (New, 2/28).

New York Times: Influential Health Fund Reboots Its Search for a Leader
“…The fund’s board had expected to conclude the search for a replacement for the current executive director, Dr. Mark Dybul, this week at its annual retreat. But ‘due to issues encountered in the recruitment process,’ board members were unable to finish, the fund said in a statement…” (McNeil, 2/28).

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Ebola Survivor, Worker Named A TIME Person Of The Year Dies After Childbirth Complications, Lack Of Proper Medical Care Due To Stigma

The Guardian: Ebola survivor and frontline fighter dies after childbirth complications
“A woman named a TIME magazine person of the year in 2014 for her frontline work fighting Ebola in West Africa has died from childbirth complications in Liberia. Hospital staff were reluctant to treat her because of the stigma that still surrounds the disease, according to her family. Salomé Karwah lost her parents, her brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and a niece in the Ebola outbreak that swept her home country in August 2014. She also contracted the disease, but survived…” (McVeigh, 2/28).

NPR: Liberian Nurse Who Recovered From Ebola Dies In Childbirth
“…I think what this tells us is that even before Ebola hit Liberia, the country suffered a massive insufficiency in medical care, and then Ebola came and wiped out what little there was left. So you just have a real deficit of doctors, of good care, of proper practices. So something as simple as childbirth or a blood infection, for example, just can go untreated. And you add on top of that fear of Ebola, the legacy of Ebola, and it just makes this toxic mix,” said Aryn Baker of TIME magazine (Inskeep, 2/28).

Scientific American: A Woman Survives Ebola but Not Pregnancy in Africa
“…Childbirth complications, known in medical terms as maternal mortality, kill more than 800 women globally each day, according to the World Health Organization. Salomé’s death is a reminder that a woman can survive conflicts and crises of historic proportions yet die giving birth…” (Yasmin, 2/28).

TIME: Liberian Ebola Fighter, a TIME Person of the Year, Dies in Childbirth
“…News of Karwah’s death rippled far beyond her small community in Liberia. Those who knew her for her tireless cheer in the MSF Ebola treatment clinic were devastated…” (Baker, 2/27).

United Press International: Ebola nurse named Time Person of the Year dies after giving birth
“…Ella Watson-Stryker, a Doctors Without Borders health promoter who worked with Harris, said, ‘To survive Ebola and then die in the larger yet silent epidemic of health system failure, I have no words'” (Adamczyk, 2/28).

Washington Post: Once TIME’s ‘Person of the Year,’ an Ebola fighter dies in childbirth due to stigma of virus
“…Even without the stigma [of Ebola], maternal health care in Liberia is abysmal. About one in 28 mothers die in the weeks surrounding childbirth, according to the international public health organization Partners in Health. The Liberian government spends about $50 per person a year on health care. Many hospitals lack basic equipment, medicine, and even electricity…” (Bearak, 2/28).

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African Policymakers Urge New Investments In TB Diagnostics, Treatments, Prevention

Xinhua News: African policymakers renew call for investments in TB control
“Countries in sub-Saharan Africa should prioritize new investments in diagnostic equipment, case management, and public awareness to reduce the burden of tuberculosis (TB), policymakers said Tuesday. They told a forum in Nairobi that innovative financing options were an imperative in order to revitalize the war against TB that has surpassed HIV/AIDS to become a leading killer in Africa…” (Lagat, 2/28).

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Activists File Lawsuits Challenging Patents On Hepatitis C Medicines; Similar Strategy Used To Expand Access To HIV Drugs

Nature: Hepatitis C drugs re-energize global fight over patents
“The liver disease hepatitis C is the new battleground for lawsuits intended to slash the cost of life-saving medicines. … In the 2000s, successful challenges to patents on HIV drugs gave poor nations access to high-quality ‘generic’ copies of the medications at rock-bottom prices. Now, buoyed by that success, activists are applying the same strategy to a fresh wave of hepatitis C drugs. They note that the standard 12-week course of treatment costs more than the average annual salary for millions of people in middle-income countries…” (Maxmen, 3/1).

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Editorials and Opinions

Advocacy Vital To Protecting, Increasing Foreign Assistance For Global Health

Christian Post: Why Christians Should Support Foreign Development Aid
Jenny Eaton Dyer, executive director of Hope Through Healing Hands and director of the Faith-based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide

“…We know we have the possibility of making poverty history, ending mother and child deaths. And ending AIDS, TB, and malaria. We just need a final push of American will to do so. How can we bring that to pass? Through advocacy … simply give your government representative permission as a leader to vote on behalf of protecting or increasing foreign assistance. Let them know that you want to make sure that we continue to provide full funding … to save the lives of mothers, children, and families with a mere penny to the dollar. Let them know you support PEPFAR, the Global Fund, nutrition, and maternal & child health. Each account matters. And finally, thank them for their leadership and their support for this funding in this era of fiscal restraint…” (2/28).

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Europe's Leadership In Global Health Critical To Ending Diseases Of Poverty By 2030

POLITICO: Why Europe should lead on fight against disease
Renate Baehr, executive director of Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW)

“The fight against diseases of poverty — HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other neglected diseases — may seem an unlikely battleground in our new era of foreign policy. But this is where the effects of the United States’ emerging isolationism will be most obvious. … If Europe doesn’t take on a leadership position, any hope of meeting commitments to end the epidemics of HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria by 2030 will be doomed to fail. … To be taken seriously, Europe needs a comprehensive, long-term vision for global health research that sets out priorities for the next decade, backed up by vocal support from Europe’s politicians and investment. … [E]vents across the Atlantic have increased the urgency for action: It is clear that we cannot rely on the U.S. for the next four years. This is an opportunity for Europe to lay the groundwork to end HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other neglected diseases by 2030. Failure to do so would be a historic abrogation of Europe’s responsibility, at a time when it has never been more vital” (2/23).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Trump Administration's Expected Foreign Aid Cuts Will Face Opposition, Feasibility Challenges

Humanosphere: Waves of opposition slam Trump proposal to cut foreign aid
Humanosphere correspondent Tom Murphy reports on the Trump administration’s proposed budget plan, which increases military spending by $54 billion next year, and discusses how “[a]n array of leaders from the military to nonprofits are upset that the foreign aid budget will suffer cuts as part of the plan” (2/28).

U.N. Dispatch: Cutting the Foreign Aid Budget Is Going to Be Harder than Trump Thinks
Mark Leon Goldberg, managing editor of the U.N. Dispatch, discusses two potential issues with the Trump administration’s proposed federal budget, writing, “[A] massive reduction in foreign aid in order to offset budget increases elsewhere is both numerically impossible and politically unfeasible” (2/28).

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PEPFAR's Evidence-Based Response, Use Of Real-Time Data Vital To Successes, Achieving AIDS-Free Generation

FHI360’s “Research for Evidence”: Should PEPFAR be renamed the ‘President’s Epidemiologic Plan for AIDS Relief’?
Timothy Mastro, chief science officer at FHI360, discusses the history and progress of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), highlighting its use of data to address the epidemic. Mastro writes, “A new global standard for the use of real-time data to guide programmatic investments to achieve HIV epidemic control has been set. Hats off to PEPFAR for putting an evidence-based response at the top of the agenda. Perhaps the ‘Emergency’ in PEPFAR should be changed to ‘Epidemiologic’? Only through the intelligent use of data, can we gain the efficiencies necessary for ending the HIV epidemic and achieving an AIDS-free generation” (2/27).

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In Light Of Mexico City Policy, Human Rights Watch Discusses Importance Of Government Support For 'She Decides' Initiative

Human Rights Watch: Governments Step Up for Reproductive Rights
“Governments should pledge political and financial support for sexual and reproductive health to counter the United States’ ‘Global Gag Rule,’ Human Rights Watch said [Tuesday]. The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Sweden are hosting a summit in Brussels on March 2, 2017, to strengthen support for the ‘She Decides’ funding initiative, which will support organizations affected by U.S. restrictions and resulting cuts…” (2/28).

Human Rights Watch: How Will Japan Respond to Attacks on Women’s Health?
Kanae Doi, Japan director of HRW, discusses the importance of Japanese support for the ‘She Decides’ funding initiative, which was established by the Dutch government in response to the Trump administration’s reinstatement and expansion of the Mexico City policy, writing, “Japan has shown a strong commitment to maternal and child health and comprehensive reproductive health care is an essential component. To protect the gains that have been made, support for the She Decides funding initiative is critical and urgent. … The Japanese government should stand with women and girls and protect the investments it has been making in global health through its foreign assistance” (2/28).

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March 2017 Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

WHO: Bulletin of the World Health Organization
The March 2017 WHO Bulletin includes editorials, news, and research and policy articles on various topics, including an editorial on strengthening rehabilitation services in health systems; a news article on treating depression and other mental health issues in communities lacking mental health professionals; and a research article on assessing the quality of primary care in Haiti (March 2017).

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Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of 'Global Fund Observer'

Aidspan: Global Fund Observer
Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, published Issue 306 of the “Global Fund Observer.” The newsletter features articles on various topics, including the Global Fund Board’s decision to continue the search for a new executive director; the Global Fund’s new modular framework that raises the profile of some key populations for the 2017-2019 funding cycle; and a report released by the Global Fund on case studies on community engagement (3/1).

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