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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

U.S. Development Finance Legislation Garners Bipartisan Support; Questions About Details Remain

Devex: Support for new U.S. development finance bill, even as some details are questioned
“The bipartisan bill introduced Tuesday proposing the creation of a new United States development finance corporation could be a landmark piece of legislation, altering the U.S. development landscape for years or decades to come. But observers note that while it has been generally well received, there are several details that may need ironing out in the weeks and months ahead as it works its way through the political process. The Better Utilization of Investment Leading to Development, or BUILD Act, would create a new agency that would combine the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the several private sector-oriented parts of the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as expand U.S. development finance capabilities…” (Saldinger, 3/1).

Sunshine State News: Ted Yoho Wants to Reform How Feds Handle International Development Finances
“U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., the chairman of the U.S. House Asia and Pacific Subcommittee, is the House sponsor of a major reform of how the federal government manages international development finances. Yoho is the House sponsor of the ‘Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act (BUILD Act)’ which streamlines a host of federal programs into a single development finance corporation. The Trump administration made a similar proposal in its FY 2019 budget request. … Yoho has reeled in U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., as a cosponsor. The bill was sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Over in the Senate, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., introduced a similar proposal…” (Derby, 3/1).

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NIAID Prioritizes Development Of Universal Influenza Vaccine

United Press International: NIH agency’s priority: Developing universal flu vaccine
“The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has announced a new priority: developing a universal influenza vaccine that can protect people of all ages against multiple flu strains. The NIAID, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, on Wednesday detailed a new strategic plan for addressing the research areas essential to creating a safe and effective universal influenza vaccine. The agency also published a paper Wednesday in the Journal of Infectious Disease…” (Cone, 2/28).

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African Nations Will Not Meet SDG To End Child Malnutrition By 2030, Detailed Maps Show

BBC News: Africa ‘set to miss U.N. development goal on malnutrition’
“Exceptionally detailed maps of child growth and education across Africa suggest that no single country is set to end childhood malnutrition by 2030. That target was set by the U.N. as a Sustainable Development Goal. However, the new maps, which give detail to the level of an individual village, show that almost every nation has at least one region where children’s health is improving…” (Gill, 3/1).

The Guardian: Africa ‘very, very far away’ from meeting global target to end child malnutrition
“…The research, comprised of two papers published in the science journal Nature, is the first of its kind to identify local hotspots for poor child nutrition and low education levels across 51 African countries. By using maps of local health and education data, in 5×5 sq km across the whole continent, researchers identified variations at state and county level missed from previous comparisons. Simon Hay, senior author of the papers and director of geospatial science at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said the U.N. global goal of ending childhood malnutrition was always quoted as an ‘aspirational’ target…” (McVeigh, 3/1).

Nature: Stunting in Africa’s children mapped town by town
“…Despite progress in reducing malnourishment and promoting education across Africa, the authors find striking local differences. In parts of southern Nigeria, for example, girls received an average of 11 years of schooling, whereas in some northern areas of the country, the average was less than two years. Enabling decision-makers to target specific communities in the greatest need could help to reduce inequality, the authors say” (2/28).

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Devex, BBC Examine How Sexual Misconduct At Some NGOs Impacting U.K., E.U. Foreign Aid Sectors

BBC News: Oxfam: What’s gone wrong with the foreign aid sector?
“Oxfam’s handling of a sex scandal in Haiti has led to difficult questions for the foreign aid sector. Diplomatic correspondent James Landale looks at the challenges charities are facing and how can they prevent misconduct and abuse in the future…” (2/28).

Devex: Exclusive: E.U. ready to tighten NGO funding rules after sex scandals
“The European Union is open to an aid worker register as well as revamping the ‘rules of engagement’ with the charities it funds in the wake of sexual misconduct by staff at Oxfam and elsewhere, the bloc’s top development official told Devex. The European Commission recently wrote to more than 200 organizations that receive funding from its development — DEVCO — and humanitarian — ECHO — departments. The letter asks the groups to explain what policies they have in place to prevent, detect, and respond to misconduct, such as codes of conduct, whistleblowing channels, and disciplinary measures…” (Chadwick, 3/1).

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Reuters Examines IARC's Benzene Monograph, Concerns Over Possible Understatement Of Chemical's Cancer Risk

Reuters: WHO cancer agency “left out key findings” in benzene review
“…Reuters revealed last year how [the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)], in reviewing the weedkiller glyphosate, excluded some data and findings that the chemical was not linked to cancer in people: In other words, how the agency may have overplayed evidence of carcinogenicity. In the case of benzene, [chemical engineer Melvyn Kopstein] claims IARC did not consider important evidence that exposure to the chemical is higher than IARC suggests: In other words, he argues, the agency may have underplayed potential cancer risks. The disclosures are significant because they give rare insight into IARC’s methods. The agency does not publish details of how it makes its assessments and forbids observers invited to its meetings from talking publicly about the proceedings…” (Kelland, 2/28).

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Haitian Government Cancels Participation In High-Level U.N. Retreat To Discuss Country's Cholera Epidemic

Miami Herald: Haiti U.N. protest continues as government cancels participation in cholera meeting
“…[T]he Haitian government on Wednesday canceled its participation in a high-level U.N. retreat on cholera in New York. Hosted by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and his Special Envoy for Haiti Josette Sheeran, the overnight retreat at Greentree on Long Island opened late Wednesday and gathered some of the world’s leading innovators in public health, finance, and business to discuss eradicating the deadly waterborne disease from Haiti. Several Haitian government ministers were scheduled to attend, along with Haiti President Jovenel Moïse, who was to give the keynote remarks along with Guterres at dinner on Wednesday and open and close Thursday’s session…” (Charles, 2/28).

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Kenya Public Health Facilities Spending More To Treat Complications From Unsafe Abortions, Ministry Of Health Report Shows

Daily Nation: Unsafe abortions cause strain on health sector
“Kenya spent Sh533 million in 2016 to treat complications of unsafe abortions in public health facilities. … This was an increase of Sh100 million from 2012 where the figure stood at Sh432.7 million, according to a report by the Ministry of Health titled The Costs of Treating Unsafe Abortion Complications in Public Health Facilities in Kenya…” (Oketch, 2/28).

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Egyptian Policy Meant To Encourage Exclusive Breastfeeding Too Strict, Some Mothers, Nutritionists Say

News Deeply’s Malnutrition Deeply: In Egypt, a New Policy Triggers a Debate Over Exclusive Breastfeeding
“…[Egyptian o]fficials say limiting access to subsidized formula is the best way to achieve their twin goals of improving early child health by boosting exclusive breastfeeding, while reducing the demand for costly subsidized formula. The program has drawn criticism from some nutritionists, though, who say the government has gone too far. They worry that essentially forcing mothers to breastfeed might actually do more harm than good. … It is not possible yet to say who is right, because the government is still gathering data on exclusive breastfeeding rates and the nutritional status of infants since the policy was introduced…” (el-Sharkawy/Farouk, 2/28).

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More News In Global Health

Associated Press: Nigeria reports record high Lassa fever cases with 317 (2/28).

CIDRAP News: Brazilian yellow fever cases circle major cities (Soucheray, 2/28).

Devex: Q&A: Tackling poor-quality medicines to prevent AMR (3/1).

NPR: A Secretive Sect Opens A Debate On Female Genital Mutilation (Hadid, 2/28).

St. Louis Public Radio: Science journalists Jon Cohen, Carl Gierstorfer explain how, why diseases spread (Hamdan, 2/28).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Latin America teen pregnancy rate ‘unacceptably high’: U.N. (Moloney, 2/28).

U.N. News: Airstrikes, shelling continue in Syria despite Security Council’s ceasefire call — top U.N. officials (2/28).

U.N. News: Top U.N. aid official calls for urgent support for Chad (2/28).

VOA News: Dengue Fever Vaccine Causing Panic, Political Strife in Philippines (Jennings, 2/28).

Xinhua News: Kenya launches guidelines for treatment of Kala-azar disease (2/28).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Administration's Proposed Budget Cuts Could Impact Public Health

Forbes: What Do Proposed Budget Cuts Mean For Infectious Diseases?
Judy Stone, infectious disease specialist and Forbes contributor

“As an infectious disease physician, one of the many disheartening things in the recently proposed budget by this administration is the effect it will have on public health. Looking for a broader perspective than what I see in my practice, I spoke with leaders of the IDSA (Infectious Diseases Society of America) and the HIVMA (HIV Medicine Association). They, too, are similarly deeply concerned. Here are [areas of] infectious disease [likely to be impacted] if this budget is to be enacted. Immunizations … CDC and Global Health … Research … HIV and Medicaid work requirements … HIV and Opioids … Major medical societies are sounding alarms regarding the infectious disease and public health implications of the administration’s proposed budget. Hopefully, these will be reconsidered and tempered by congressional debate and modifications, and we will be able to avoid having renewed outbreaks of infections previously fairly well-controlled” (2/28).

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Providing Incentives, Addressing 'Stymied Market' Vital To Stimulating Development Of New Antimicrobials

Washington Post: Letter to the Editor: Developers of antibiotics urgently need government help
Jeffrey Stein, president and chief executive of Cidara Therapeutics and chair of the Antimicrobials Working Group

“While the [editorial, ‘A new superbug threat,’] shone a much-needed spotlight on the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance and highlighted a commercial environment that does not commensurately value the development of potentially lifesaving antibiotics, it overlooked the urgent need to pass legislation that supports the discovery of new antibiotics and addresses the failure of the marketplace to incentivize investment in the development of antimicrobials. … Pending legislation holds promise, but it is unclear when or if any will advance in the current political environment. Cooperation among academia, industry, and bipartisan congressional support is imperative to stimulate innovative antimicrobials. Without adequately addressing the stymied market, necessary innovation for our next ‘miracle drugs’ will come to a rapid stop” (2/28).

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Sustaining Immunization Programs, Eliminating Measles Requires Governments To Regain Public Trust

Financial Times: To wipe out measles, governments must regain social trust
Heidi Larson, director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

“…This week marks 20 years since Andrew Wakefield published his faulty research linking the measles, mumps, and rubella, or MMR, vaccine to autism, sparking a public panic. … [T]he [recent] measles outbreaks in Europe cannot be blamed on the autism rumor alone. Reluctance and refusal to vaccinate reflects deeper issues around public trust in government, anger about vaccine mandates, and resistance to medical treatments that are perceived as ‘not natural.’ … Governments are at the heart of every element of vaccination policy, from regulation of safety controls to approving immunization schedules. So gaining public trust will not only be key to the sustainability of routine immunization programs, but especially critical in the face of epidemic threats. … The long cherished dream of eliminating measles is not an impossible task. Every country that achieved the goal would also demonstrate the strength of its citizens’ trust — a measure of its ability to manage future threats” (2/28).

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Partnership, Determination Will Help Eradicate Polio, Complete Albert Sabin's Vision

STAT: Remembering Albert Sabin and the vaccine that changed the world
John Sever, vice chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee

“…With the support of national governments and using the technique of mass immunization, [the Global Polio Eradication Initiative] — now made up of Rotary [International], the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — has reduced the number of children paralyzed by wild poliovirus from 350,000 in 1988 to just 22 cases last year. We have every expectation that the number will soon drop to zero. Through this extensive partnership, [Albert] Sabin’s spark of breathtaking ambition [to eradicate polio] flamed into a beacon of cooperation, professionalism, and hope. When its work is done, and the world is free of polio, the achievement will be a testament not only to the vision and determination of one man, but also to the ability of a world united in compassion to determine its own future” (3/1).

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'Anonymized Big Data' Could Help Achieve Health, Development Goals

Thomson Reuters Foundation: How big data analytics can fuel positive societal change and development
Joakim Reiter, external affairs director at Vodafone Group

“…At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, the Vodafone Foundation announced a pioneering program in Ghana to use aggregated anonymized data to help the government track and control epidemics to prevent widespread outbreaks. The program, one of the first of its kind in the world, will use aggregated anonymized mobile data to track real-time trends in population movement. The data is then analyzed to provide life-saving insights during an epidemic. The program is a good example of how big data can be used to gather valuable insights, which the government of Ghana can apply to a number of health and other sustainable development challenges, saving and improving lives. … Governments and humanitarian organizations have only just begun exploiting the potential of big data to improve decision-making. While measuring the impact of these data-driven decisions will be essential to make the case for long-term investment in big data innovations, governments and NGOs trying to solve societal issues should be assessing whether unlocking the power of anonymized big data could provide the answer to their problems” (2/28).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Open Letter Addresses Trump Administration's Policies, Proposed Funding Cuts On HIV Efforts

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: Letter speaks to evidence against White House policies, cuts and science stances
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer at “Science Speaks,” discusses an open letter circulated by Health GAP that “highlights directives, directions, policies, and proposed funding cuts from the Trump administration with impacts on evidence-based efforts to control and reverse the HIV pandemic. … Health GAP … plans to release the signed letter during the March 4 – March 7 international Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections” (2/28).

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MFAN Commends Introduction Of New Bipartisan BUILD Act To Strengthen U.S. Development Finance Tools

MFAN: New Bill Advances U.S. Development Finance but Needs to Ensure Strong Development Impact
In a statement delivered on behalf of MFAN, co-chairs George Ingram, Tessie San Martin, and Connie Veillette write, “The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network commends the bicameral, bipartisan effort behind new legislation to strengthen U.S. development finance tools and will be engaging closely to ensure it maximizes its contribution to development. The Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act of 2018 (BUILD Act) … follows the recent proposal in the President’s FY19 Budget Request and the 2017 architecture proposal of the MFAN Co-Chairs. MFAN applauds the sponsors’ leadership and looks forward to working together to strengthen the bill’s development mandate and tools in delivering long-overdue reforms…” (2/28).

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Duke Global Health Institute Launches Center For Global Reproductive Health

Duke Global Health Institute: New DGHI Center Will Address Global Reproductive Health
“[Tuesday marked] the launch of the Center for Global Reproductive Health, led by Megan Huchko, associate professor of obstetrics & gynecology and global health and based at the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI). The center will foster expertise on policies, programs, and innovations in reproductive health through rigorous research, education, and strong relationships with partner countries. One of Huchko’s goals for the center is to elevate Duke University as a leader in global reproductive health…” (2/27).

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From the U.S. Government

CDC Continues Efforts To Track, Understand Zika

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: Continuing the Fight Against Zika
This blog post discusses the CDC’s Global Disease Detection program’s efforts to track and understand the Zika virus (2/28).

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