Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Border Closures, Power Outages Complicate Humanitarian Efforts In Venezuela; Aid Convoy Fire Appears To Have Been Accidentally Set By Opposition Protestor, Not Government

Devex: Venezuela border standoff strains humanitarian response in Cúcuta
“The border closure between Colombia and Venezuela is straining humanitarian response efforts as organizations on the Colombian side work to meet the needs of migrants and refugees who can no longer move freely between the two countries. The border has remained closed since the Feb. 23 effort by the opposition government of Juan Guaidó to move desperately needed humanitarian aid supplies into the country. That assistance, stockpiled by the U.S. Agency of International Development in Colombia, sits in a warehouse near one of three official crossings at bridges outside Cúcuta that remain blockaded…” (Welsh, 3/11).

New York Times: Footage Contradicts U.S. Claim That Nicolás Maduro Burned Aid Convoy
“The narrative seemed to fit Venezuela’s authoritarian rule: Security forces, on the order of President Nicolás Maduro, had torched a convoy of humanitarian aid as millions in his country were suffering from illness and hunger. Vice President Mike Pence wrote that ‘the tyrant in Caracas danced’ as his henchmen ‘burned food & medicine.’ The State Department released a video saying Mr. Maduro had ordered the trucks burned. And Venezuela’s opposition held up the images of the burning aid, reproduced on dozens of news sites and television screens throughout Latin America, as evidence of Mr. Maduro’s cruelty. But there is a problem: The opposition itself, not Mr. Maduro’s men, appears to have set the cargo alight accidentally…” (Casey et al., 3/10).

Washington Post: Rotting food and endangered patients: How Venezuelans are faring during continuing nationwide power outages
“Opposition lawmakers and aid groups warned Sunday that an unprecedented nationwide blackout in Venezuela was causing a rising number of deaths, as citizens struggled for a fourth day to find food and water and hospitals were paralyzed. ‘What Venezuelans are living today looks like a science fiction movie,’ said Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader who is spearheading a U.S.-backed campaign to oust President Nicolás Maduro. At a news conference Sunday, Guaidó said that at least 17 deaths had occurred at hospitals as a result of the outages. … It was not possible to independently confirm the reports. Venezuela’s health minister, Carlos Alvarado, said on state TV that reports of deaths linked to the power outages were ‘false.’ The government has blamed the blackout on sabotage by the U.S. government…” (Sheridan et al., 3/10).

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Bustle Examines Effects Of Trump Administration's Expanded Mexico City Policy

Bustle: How Trump’s Global Gag Rule Is Stigmatizing Women’s Reproductive Rights Overseas
“…[On his first day in office, President Trump] reinstated [and expanded] a rule that prevents U.S. foreign aid [for global health] from going to organizations overseas that so much as mention the word ‘abortion’ to patients. An organization that provides reproductive health services around the world, Marie Stopes International, refused to sign the ‘global gag rule,’ as the [Mexico City] policy is known. More than two years later, some of its branches are struggling to secure funding, and those who work at Marie Stopes say the rule has lit a fire under ‘anti-choice movements’ around the continent. In interviews with Bustle, directors for several Marie Stopes branches … say it has generated stigma against the reproductive health services they provide, as well as emboldened groups that oppose women’s reproductive rights overseas…” (Lim, 3/8).

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U.K. DFID To Announce New Initiative Focused On Broadening Partnerships

Devex: DFID chief seeks U.S. partnership on women’s rights
“The U.K. Department for International Development will announce a new initiative in the coming weeks focused on partnerships and broadening who the agency works with, U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt said Friday [in a speech Friday at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.] The United Kingdom development chief added that the initiative will not be solely focused on funding new partnerships, but about being a catalyst, adding that DFID is specifically looking to do more work with faith-based organizations…” (Saldinger, 3/11).

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Media Outlets Highlight 2 New Reports, Interview Discussing Gender Equality Gaps In Global Health, Development Data, Employment

Devex: Gender data gaps: New report highlights challenges in sub-Saharan Africa
“The quality of gender data in sub-Saharan Africa has been assessed for the first time, and the results are alarming. A new report from Open Data Watch and Data2x has found that almost half of the indicators essential for identifying and addressing barriers faced by women and girls are lacking sex-disaggregation or are entirely missing. Without data broken down by gender, understanding the barriers to equality, and identifying solutions becomes more challenging. The report, titled ‘Bridging the Gap: Mapping Gender Data Availability in Africa,’ was released [last] week, with the indicators identified by the United Nations Statistics Division, U.N. Women, and Open Data Watch…” (Cornish, 3/8).

Devex: Helen Clark on the need for more women in global dev leadership
“…Through a new six-part audio series, DevProWomen2030, Devex will be speaking to women professionals, leaders, and recruiters in the sector to find out how changes across the development landscape are impacting women and what advice they have for those entering this space or looking to climb the ladder. To kick off this series, Devex caught up with Helen Clark, former head of United Nations Development Programme and former prime minister of New Zealand. Clark believes a proactive approach is needed if we want to achieve gender parity and see more women in top positions across the development sector…” (Smith/Root, 3/8).

Health Policy Watch: Global Health Agencies Face Yawning Gaps In Gender Equality — New 50/50 Report
“Stark gender pay and power gaps remain a fact of life in leading global health organizations, according to a new Global Health 50/50 report on gender equality in nearly 200 workplaces, including United Nations and national development agencies as well as non-profit organizations, research institutions, and private sector firms. The analysis, covering an estimated 4.5 million employees worldwide, indicates that the majority of organizations are failing to deliver on maternity and paternity leave policies, and lack adequate mechanisms for reporting on issues such as gender pay gaps and sexual harassment…” (Fletcher, 3/7).

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CEPI Board Addresses MSF Concerns Over New Equitable Access Policy; Advocates Remain Worried

Devex: Battle over CEPI’s access to vaccines policy deepens
“The board of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations has stood by its revised equal access policy after questions were raised about maintaining access to vaccines. But Médecins Sans Frontières, which led the criticisms, said its concerns about the policy had deepened since its initial objections last year, and that the board’s response had failed to address those issues. … At the conclusion of CEPI’s meeting Friday, Jane Halton, chair of the board, told Devex the board had considered the issues raised by MSF in ‘great detail’ and maintained they ‘share a common purpose’ with partners like MSF in tackling the ‘devastating impacts of epidemics, particularly in already vulnerable communities.’ … But global health advocates remain unconvinced…” (Ravelo, 3/11).

The Telegraph: Warning over lack of transparency in the development of vaccines
“Vaccines to combat emerging infectious diseases such as Ebola or Zika may become too expensive because safeguards ensuring fair pricing have been watered down, campaigners have warned. In an open letter to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) — set up in 2017 to develop vaccines against deadly but neglected infectious diseases — charity Médecins Sans Frontières warns that the coalition has taken an ‘alarming step backwards’ in its new equitable access policy. … In a statement on its website, CEPI said the ‘rules-based approach’ of its previous policy acted as a ‘barrier to potential partners.’ It now has a ‘principles-based approach that provides a robust foundation for advancing equitable access’…” (Gulland, 3/8).

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WHO DG Tedros Visits DRC Ebola Clinic Hours After Another Attack By Militants Leaves Police Officer Dead, Health Workers Injured

Associated Press: Ebola treatment center in Congo is attacked again; 1 dead
“Heavily armed assailants again attacked an Ebola treatment center in the heart of eastern Congo’s deadly outbreak on Saturday, with one police officer killed and health workers injured, authorities said, while frightened patients waited in isolation rooms for the gunfire to end. The early-morning attack in Butembo came less than a week after the treatment center reopened following an attack last month, which forced Doctors Without Borders to suspend operations in the city amid warnings that ending this outbreak is impossible if health workers aren’t protected…” (Mwanamilongo, 3/9).

Reuters: Congo’s Mai Mai militiamen attack Ebola treatment center
“…World Health Organization (WHO) [Director-General] Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visited the Butembo center later on Saturday, a statement from the organization said. ‘It breaks my heart to think of the health workers injured and the police officer who died in today’s attack, as we continue to mourn those who died in previous attacks, while defending the right to health,’ Tedros was quoted as saying. ‘But we have no choice except to continue serving the people here, who are among the most vulnerable in the world’…” (Mahamba/Paravicini, 3/9).

U.N. News: DR Congo: Following second brutal assault on Ebola clinic, U.N. health chief vows to continue serving ‘most vulnerable’
“…The visit came as [Tedros] concluded a three-day mission to the country, along with other WHO leadership and senior United States officials who met with the president, government officials, partner organizations, and local responders involved in the outbreak response. He also spoke to a group of partners, officials, and staff in Butembo…” (3/9).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak and response is available from Agence France-Presse, Al Jazeera (2), CNN, Nature, NPR, and VOA News.

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News Sources Continue Coverage Of 'London Patient' HIV Remission Case, Implications For Research

ABC News: The ‘London Patient’ goes into HIV remission: Here’s what that means for HIV treatment (Haghighat/Kamboj, 3/8).

Financial Times: A disease in remission? New hope in the quest to cure HIV (Cookson, 3/8).

New York Times: Bit by Bit, Scientists Gain Ground on AIDS (McNeil, 3/8).

Rewire.News: A Second Person Is ‘Cured’ of HIV. But What Does That Mean? (Kempner, 3/7).

SciDev.Net: AIDS success ‘unworkable’ for vast majority (Chongwang, 3/7).

USA TODAY: Doctors might have found a cure for HIV. But is it worse than the disease? (O’Donnell/Alltucker, 3/8).

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More News In Global Health

Al Jazeera: 19 million Yemeni children suffer malnutrition and illness (Javaid, 3/8).

CBS News: “Our children are forgotten”: Zika’s devastating impact lingers 3 years later (Adams, 3/8).

Financial Times: Chile’s sugary food fight echoes around the world (Jacobs, 3/10).

The Guardian: China database lists ‘breedready’ status of 1.8 million women (Kuo, 3/11).

New York Times: India Fights Diabetic Blindness With Help From A.I. (Metz, 3/10).

Quartz: What it’s like to raise children in the world’s most polluted capital (Timsit, 3/10).

Reuters: As polio goal nears, Pakistan pushes against vaccine misinformation (Mackenzie, 3/8).

The Telegraph: Climate change could bring Zika and malaria to Britain, the Department of Health fears (Knapton, 3/9).

U.N. News: Peace deal holds in South Sudan, but humanitarian funding ‘ultimately unsustainable,’ says top U.N. envoy (3/8).

Xinhua News: Cholera-infected people receive medical treatment in Sanaa, Yemen (3/10).

Xinhua News: Philippines records upsurge in dengue cases (3/8).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Leadership, Investment In PEPFAR, Global Fund Vital To Ending HIV/AIDS

St. Cloud Times: U.S. leadership in HIV/AIDS fight matters
Suud Olat, Somali refugee and St. Cloud-based volunteer with the ONE Campaign

“…[The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] have shown the true impact American generosity can have on lifting people out of poverty, bringing hope to millions, and saving entire generations of people. … The best way to end the AIDS epidemic is for America to support global health programs like PEPFAR and the Global Fund, which have given the gift of life and hope to millions. Later this year, Congress will have the opportunity to fully fund PEPFAR and maintain the United States’ historic contribution to the Global Fund ahead of its October replenishment. … [The U.S. contribution to the Global Fund] has been used to incentivize major investments from other donors. A fully funded Global Fund would help save 16 million lives by 2023. … America’s unparalleled leadership, generosity, and big heart has made winning the fight against this ugly disease possible. Until the job is done, we must not stop” (3/8).

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Gender Parity At All Levels Will Help Improve Global Health

Project Syndicate: How Gender Parity Improves Global Health
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, and Senait Fisseha, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan, chief adviser to the director general of the WHO, and member of the Global Health 50/50 advisory council

“…Gender parity is a practical as well as a moral issue. … But gender is also a key social determinant of health … And yet, … Global Health 50/50 finds that over 70 percent of health organizations are currently headed by men, and that in 40 percent of the organizations reviewed, women occupy fewer than one-third of senior management positions. And few will be shocked to learn that the women working in these organizations earn 13.5 percent less, on average, than their male counterparts. Sadly, these findings are in keeping with what one finds in boardrooms across the corporate and non-profit sectors. But such disparities are all the more worrying when they show up in the global health sector, given its role in protecting the wellbeing and rights of all people everywhere. … [T]hree priorities should guide our approach to global health at all levels … First, we need to ensure that gender analysis informs all health strategies and program missions. … Second, we urgently need to close the power and pay gap between men and women in the health sector, by pursuing deliberate strategies to level the playing field for women. And, third, we must recommit to transparency and accountability in health organizations, including on gender equality. … When it comes to global health organizations, government ministries, and national health institutions, gender equality should be embraced not just for its own sake, but also because it works” (3/8).

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Social Mobilization, Building Trust Within Communities Essential To Successful Ebola Response In Congo

Christian Science Monitor: To end an Ebola epidemic, listening helps
Editorial Board

“For eight months, health workers in Congo have been battling the second-worst Ebola epidemic in history. … Compared with a massive outbreak of the virus five years ago in Western Africa, this time responders in the Central African country have much better medical tools. They are far more coordinated. Yet many are struggling to adopt a key lesson from the previous crisis: Before doing anything, listen to and address the fears of vulnerable communities. During the 2014-16 epidemic, acute panic as well as high suspicion of officials hindered the response. … Now in many parts of Congo, the response starts with volunteers going into villages and welcoming people to talk about their concerns, their knowledge of Ebola, and their preferences in dealing with it. These ‘social mobilizers’ also try to connect with religious and community leaders to understand cultural traditions and spread useful messages. … Such calls for more ‘social mobilization’ need to be heeded. Fear of diseases like Ebola can be contained by building up trust and by listening to local people. Compassion can be a balm for anxiety. It can also open a door for cooperation to end an epidemic” (3/8).

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Preparedness Key To Containing Pandemics

Devex: Opinion: Pandemics are the world’s silent killers. We need new ways to contain them.
Robert Muggah, director of research at the Igarapé Institute and the SecDev Foundation, adviser for the Global Parliament of Mayors, member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Cities and Urbanization, and fellow at the Global Affairs Institute and the WEF Global Agenda Council on Fragility

“One of humanity’s gravest existential threats is invisible. Pandemics are silent killers and have prematurely ended the lives of more people than virtually any other cause. … Pandemics are essentially epidemics that are communicable and cross an international boundary affecting a large number of people. … At least five underlying factors seem to be quickening up the risk of pandemics. The first factor contributing to the increase in pandemics is globalization … A second factor is increasingly high-density living … The third factor is massive environmental degradation. … A fourth factor, climate change, is increasingly being linked to the acceleration of infectious disease transmission, especially malaria, dengue, yellow fever, and Zika. … Finally, population displacement due to war, disaster, development schemes, and the pursuit of better economic opportunities increases the movement of vectors and vulnerability to pandemic threats. … Preparedness is the watchword for the 21st century. While progress is being made, most states are still failing to meet minimum international standards to detect, assess, report, or respond to major public health threats. When outbreaks hit, as they surely will, responses are still likely to be absent, delayed, or stretched too thin. The cycle of neglect, carelessness, and panic that follow pandemics is lethal — not just on the frontline where outbreaks occur, but to populations across the planet” (3/8).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Co-Director Of Georgetown University's Center For Global Health And Quality Discusses Opportunities, Challenges For U.S. Engagement With Africa

Health Affairs Blog: Why Africa Matters To The United States And How President Donald Trump’s New Africa Strategy Falls Short
Charles B. Holmes, co-director at the Center for Global Health and Quality and visiting associate professor of medicine at Georgetown University, discusses the importance of U.S. engagement in Africa, noting both opportunities and challenges for engaging with the continent. Holmes outlines the successes of U.S.-led programs in improving health and development outcomes with African leadership, including PEPFAR, the President’s Malaria Initiative, Global Health Security Agenda, African Growth and Opportunity Act, Millennium Challenge Corporation Power Africa, and Feed the Future. He concludes, “[Th]e U.S. cannot achieve its aims in Africa unless it recognizes the positive promise of the continent and engages in a true spirit of partnership. Congress and the administration should work together to implement the most positive elements of this strategy, while bolstering support for human rights, democracy, and ensuring we don’t squander the extraordinary health and development gains Africans and Americans together have worked so hard to achieve” (3/8).

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Health Leaders Discuss Achieving UHC In Africa At 2019 Africa Health Agenda International Conference

UNAIDS: Africa — Achieving health coverage without compromising on quality
“Momentum for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Africa is building and many African countries have already integrated UHC into their national health strategies. But with 11 million Africans pushed into extreme poverty each year because of out-of-pocket health expenses, how can Africa achieve UHC which delivers a quality package of care for people living in Africa? The UHC debate was buzzing in Rwanda’s capital Kigali [last] week during one of the largest health gatherings in Africa, the Africa Health Agenda International Conference 2019. Co-hosted by the Ministry of Health of Rwanda and the African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref Health Africa), 1,500 health leaders shared new ideas and home-grown solutions to the continent’s most pressing health challenges…” (3/8).

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FT Health Discusses Findings From Global Health 50/50 Report On Gender Inequality, Other Reports Marking International Women's Day

FT Health: Health organizations slow to tackle inequality
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter discusses findings from the Global Health 50/50’s annual report on gender inequality, as well as other reports marking International Women’s Day. The newsletter also provides a round-up of global health-related news stories (Dodd, 3/8).

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From the U.S. Government

PEPFAR Continues To Support Women, Adolescent Girls Through DREAMS Partnership

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: Supporting Millions of Girls, One Dream at a Time
In recognition of International Women’s Day, Deborah Birx, U.S. global AIDS coordinator and U.S. special representative for global health diplomacy, discusses the work of PEPFAR’s DREAMS Partnership, which aims to reduce new HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women in 15 countries in Africa. Birx notes, “PEPFAR has invested more than $800 million in DREAMS over its first four years. … PEPFAR is committed to helping improve gender equity and to supporting millions of girls and young women to reach their full potential — one dream at a time” (3/8).

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