Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Competing U.S., Russia Resolutions On Venezuela Fail To Pass U.N. Security Council

New York Times: Russia Blocks Venezuela Measure at U.N., Calling It a U.S. Ploy for Regime Change
“Calling it a ‘mere pretext’ for sinister intent, Russia vetoed an American resolution in the United Nations Security Council on Thursday for new elections and unhindered distribution of humanitarian aid in Venezuela. It was the latest clash in a Cold War-style quarrel playing out amid the chaos unfolding in Venezuela, once Latin America’s most prosperous country…” (Schwirtz, 2/28).

U.N. News: Venezuela: Competing U.S., Russia resolutions fail to pass in Security Council
“…Neither text was adopted as the U.S. draft was vetoed and the Russian draft failing to secure enough votes in favor. It was the third Council meeting seeking solutions to Venezuela’s ‘protracted crisis’ since tensions started escalating in January, when Juan Guaidó, head of the country’s National Assembly, challenged the legitimacy of the sitting President, Nicolás Maduro, who has been in power since 2013 and who was sworn in again for a second term, on 10 January…” (2/28).

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Global Surge In Childhood Measles Cases 'Alarming,' UNICEF Says Of New Survey Data

The Guardian: Shock rise in global measles outbreaks ‘disastrous’ for children, U.N. warns
“Cases of childhood measles are surging to shocking levels around the globe, led by 10 countries that account for three-quarters of the rise. Amid warnings of ‘disastrous consequences’ for children if the disease continues to spread unchecked, a worldwide survey by the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, said 98 countries around the globe reported a rise in measles cases in 2018 compared with 2017. That total includes a number of countries that had previously eradicated the disease…” (Beaumont, 3/1).

The Telegraph: ‘Like dropping a match in a gas canister’: why measles outbreaks are on the rise
“…It is not a mystery why measles is on the rise: globally, childhood immunization rates have stagnated, with the latest data from WHO showing that by the end of 2017 85 percent of children globally had received one dose of the measles vaccination and 67 percent had received the recommended two doses. … Children’s charity UNICEF has warned that the ‘alarming’ global surge in the number of measles cases is a threat to children. It blamed the increase on a range of factors: poor health infrastructure, civil strife, low community awareness, complacency, and vaccine hesitancy…” (Gulland/Newey, 2/28).

Additional coverage of UNICEF’s measles data is available from Agence France-Presse, CNN, Fortune, TIME, U.N. Dispatch, and UPI.

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Philippines DOJ To Charge Former Health Secretary, Other Health Officials, Sanofi Employees Over Deaths Linked To Dengvaxia

CNN Philippines: DOJ finds probable cause to charge Garin, others with reckless imprudence over Dengvaxia mess
“The Department of Justice (DOJ) has found probable cause to charge health officials with reckless imprudence resulting [in] homicide over the controversial Dengvaxia mess. In a resolution dated February 11 and released on Friday, the DOJ panel said it found probable cause to indict former Health Secretary Janette Garin and nine other Department of Health (DOH) officials for violation of Article 365, in relation to Article 49 of the Revised Penal Code. … Aside from [DOH] officials, the resolution also indicted officers from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, and Sanofi Pasteur, Inc…” (3/1).

Reuters: Sanofi ‘strongly disagrees’ with Philippines prosecutors over its dengue vaccine
“Sanofi on Friday said it ‘strongly’ disagreed with the findings made against the company and six of its employees in the Philippines over its controversial dengue vaccine…” (Blamont, 3/1).

Additional coverage of the indictments is available from Agence France-Presse, PhilStar, Reuters, and UPI.

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11-Year-Old Argentinian Girl Forced To Give Birth After Being Denied Abortion Following Rape; Infant Not Expected To Survive

The Guardian: Girl, 11, gives birth to child of rapist after Argentina says no to abortion
“An 11-year old girl who became pregnant after being raped was forced to give birth after Argentine authorities refused to allow her the abortion to which she was entitled. The authorities ignored repeated requests for an abortion from the child, called ‘Lucía’ to protect her identity, as well as her mother and a number of Argentine women’s right activists. After 23 weeks of pregnancy, she had to undergo a caesarean section on Tuesday. The baby is unlikely to survive. The move has been described as the ‘worst kind of cruelty for this child’ and has been blamed on an anti-choice strategy in the country to force girls to carry their pregnancies to term…” (Goñi, 3/1).

Additional coverage of this story is available from Agence France-Presse, BBC News, Fox News, The Telegraph, USA TODAY, and Washington Post.

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WHO Expresses Concern Over Attacks On Ebola Treatment Facilities In DRC; World Bank Provides $80M In Grants To Help Response Efforts

Axios: World Health Organization “deeply concerned” over attacks on Ebola clinics
“The World Health Organization said Thursday it was deeply concerned over two violent attacks on Ebola treatment centers in two cities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo this past week, which resulted in fatalities, traumatized patients and health care workers, and damage to key medical facilities…” (O’Reilly, 2/28).

Financial Times: World Bank gives DR Congo $80m for Ebola battle
“The World Bank has given the Democratic Republic of Congo $80m in grants to help its fight against the latest Ebola outbreak. The funding included $20m from the Bank’s innovative pandemic emergency financing facility, which was set up in 2017 to channel private investment capital into the development aid sector. The remainder came from World Bank group member the International Development Association, which funds low-income countries…” (Allen, 2/28).

New York Times: ‘Crippling’ Attacks Force Doctors Without Borders to Close Ebola Centers in Congo
“Two attacks on Ebola treatment centers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have forced the international aid group Doctors Without Borders to close the facilities, it said on Thursday, warning that the outbreak was not under control…” (Yuhas, 2/28).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak and response is available from Agence France-Presse, CIDRAP News, and Washington Times.

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More News In Global Health

IRIN: Key donors freeze Uganda refugee aid after U.N. mismanagement scandal (Okiror, 2/28).

NPR: A ‘Period’ Movie Won The Oscar! So Why Are Some Menstrual Health Experts Ambivalent? (Aizenman, 2/28).

Press Association/Irish Examiner: Ireland to double foreign aid to more than €2bn by 2030 (2/28).

Quartz: The World Health Organization is deeply worried about snake bites (Rasmi, 3/1).

SciDev.Net: Africa sinking deeper into hunger (Buguzi, 2/28).

U.N. News: Prolonged economic crisis and drought demands urgent response for Zimbabwe’s ‘hardest hit’: U.N. relief chief (2/28).

U.N. News: Without ‘transformative shifts,’ women will wait two centuries for gender equality (2/27).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Government Must Be Transparent, Involve Public Discussion When Approving Potentially Risky Disease Research, Opinion Piece Says

Washington Post: The U.S. is funding dangerous experiments it doesn’t want you to know about
Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security and professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

“In 2014, U.S. officials imposed a moratorium on experiments to enhance some of the world’s most lethal viruses by making them transmissible by air, responding to widespread concerns that a lab accident could spark a global pandemic. … Apparently, the government has decided the research should now move ahead. … Amazingly, despite the potential public-health consequences of such work, neither the approval nor the deliberations or judgments that supported it were announced publicly. … This lack of transparency is unacceptable. Making decisions to approve potentially dangerous research in secret betrays the government’s responsibility to inform and involve the public when approving endeavors, whether scientific or otherwise, that could put health and lives at risk. … We need public discussion and debate about the risks and benefits of these kinds of experiments. And because viruses do not respect borders, the conversation must move beyond the national level, to coordinate the regulation of dangerous science internationally. At stake here is the credibility of science, which depends on public support to continue. Science is a powerful driver of human health, well-being, and prosperity, and nearly all of it can be done without putting populations at risk. If governments want to fund exceptionally risky science, they should do so openly and in a way that promotes public awareness and engagement” (2/27).

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New Countdown Aims To Strengthen Progress In Global Mental Health

The Lancet: Countdown Global Mental Health 2030
Shekhar Saxena, professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and colleagues

“…[W]e announce the establishment of Countdown Global Mental Health, an independent, multistakeholder monitoring and accountability collaboration for mental health, within an initial timeframe of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). … Given the huge disparities between and within countries, we expect the Countdown to be a strong instrument for accountability to decrease population-level disparities for mental health. Why another Countdown? The main reason is that mental health is one of the most neglected of all health concerns with adverse consequences on individuals, families, societies, and countries. None of the existing Countdowns adequately reflect the unique nature and breadth of mental health. Countdown Global Mental Health will build on the work done by WHO through the Mental Health Atlas, Mental Health Action Plan, and other initiatives. It will also work closely with existing Countdowns to ensure cohesiveness and that mental health is integrated across other global health domains. … As the global community begins to mobilize resources towards addressing the goals of promoting mental health, preventing mental disorders, and providing quality care for people with mental health conditions, there is an urgent imperative for a comprehensive and transparent monitoring mechanism to catalyze global and national action and hold diverse actors accountable. Countdown Global Mental Health seeks to realize this aspiration” (2/21).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

In Letter To U.S. Congress, Clinicians, Scientists, Public Health Practitioners Call For $1.56B FY20 Appropriation To Global Fund

Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Clinicians, Scientists and Public Health Practitioners Call for Increased Pledge to the Global Fund
“[On Thursday,] 443 clinicians, scientists, and public health practitioners from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) sent a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs (SFOPS) thanking them for their longstanding leadership in the battle against infectious diseases at home and abroad. The letter also urged leaders to consider a $1.56 billion appropriation to the Global Fund for FY 2020…” (2/28).

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Strategic Health Diplomacy Bulletin Featuring Interview With Mark Dybul Available Online

Strategic Health Diplomacy: Health Diplomacy Bulletin #25: Former PEPFAR Director Dybul Calls for Doubling-Down on Commitment to Fight HIV/AIDS as Country Partners Take More Responsibility for Funding
The latest issue of the Health Diplomacy Bulletin features an interview with Mark Dybul, faculty co-director of the Center for Global Health and Quality and professor in the Department of Medicine at the Georgetown University Medical Center, who previously served as the executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Dybul discusses global efforts to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic (2/28).

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Global Health Council Releases 2019 Global Health Briefing Book

Global Health Council: A Guide to U.S. Investments in Global Health: Transforming Communities Worldwide
Loyce Pace, president and executive director of the Global Health Council, introduces the 2019 Global Health Briefing Book, “a resource for well-informed decision making on issues involving U.S. engagement in global health.” The full report and briefs are available online (February 2019).

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UNAIDS, UNDP Release Statements, Publications Recognizing Zero Discrimination Day

UNAIDS: Message from the UNAIDS Executive Director on Zero Discrimination Day (3/1).

UNAIDS: How discriminatory Caribbean laws are being challenged in the courts (3/1).

UNAIDS: They don’t judge, so why should I? (2/28).

UNAIDS: Young people to campaign against stigma and discrimination in Egypt (2/27).

United Nations Development Programme: Inclusion can turn the tide against HIV (Dhaliwal, 2/28).

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Vaccines Can Play Vital Role In Addressing AMR, Wellcome Policy Director Says

Wellcome: Vaccines work — for superbugs too
Ed Whiting, director of policy and chief of staff at Wellcome, discusses the role of vaccines in addressing the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), writing, “Discovering new antibiotics to replace those that no longer work is essential, but if we could use vaccines (already saving two to three million lives a year) to prevent the spread of infections in the first place we could save many more lives. … This is a really exciting opportunity for both the AMR and vaccines communities to work together on one of the world’s most pressing global health challenges. Vaccines are our first lines of defense against a huge number of health problems — and they can be for superbugs as well” (3/1).

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Risk Of International Spread Of Polio Remains Public Health Emergency, WHO Committee Says

World Health Organization: Statement of the Twentieth IHR Emergency Committee
This statement summarizes outcomes and recommendations from the 20th meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the international spread of poliovirus. In conclusion, the committee stated, “The Committee unanimously agreed that the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and recommended the extension of Temporary Recommendations for a further three months…” (3/1).

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March 2019 Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

WHO: Bulletin of the World Health Organization
The March 2019 WHO Bulletin features articles on various topics, including an editorial on governance for health, with a focus on the HIV response and general global health; a research article on implementing prevention policies for mother-to-child transmission of HIV in rural Malawi, South Africa, and Tanzania; and a perspective piece on applying lessons learned from the HIV experience to the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (March 2019).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID Releases New Blended Finance Roadmap For Global Health

USAID: Greater than the Sum of its Parts: Blended Finance Roadmap for Global Health
USAID’s Center for Innovation and Impact (CII) released a new report outlining a roadmap for “using blended finance approaches to catalyze new funding for global health and achieve health outcomes.” The report presents the roadmap “as a practical resource to help USAID, other donors, and partners identify blended finance opportunities to achieve health goals … identifies different types of blended finance instruments and how USAID can support their design, development, and implementation … [and] features country deep dives and illustrative blended finance instruments in India and Tanzania, demonstrating how this roadmap can be applied in global health across different country archetypes” (2/28).

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U.S. Provides Additional $15M To Zimbabwe To Improve Food Security

U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe: United States provides additional US$15 million to respond to increased food insecurity
“The United States government announced US$15 million in additional funding to respond to the critical food security situation in Zimbabwe. The contribution, provided through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), brings the total U.S. funding for the current lean season to US$38 million, ensuring nearly 600,000 rural Zimbabweans have adequate food supplies before the next harvest…” (2/28).

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