KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Tillerson Cancels Appearance At Kenyan PEPFAR Event, Cuts Africa Trip Short Due To Illness, Other Foreign Policy Developments

Associated Press: Illness sidelines U.S. secretary of state for a day in Africa
“U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson canceled his scheduled events Saturday in Kenya because he was sick. … An event Saturday for PEPFAR, the U.S. program to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa, went ahead without Tillerson. … Tillerson arrived in Kenya on Friday afternoon for the third stop on his five-country tour of Africa…” (Lederman, 3/10).

Bloomberg Politics: Tillerson to Resume African Schedule on Sunday After Falling Ill
“…Tillerson had planned on Saturday to visit a site run by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, and then lay a wreath at the site of the August 1998 bombing of the American Embassy in downtown Nairobi. U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec attended the PEPFAR event alone, and the State Department was looking at rescheduling the wreath-laying ceremony, [Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein] said…” (Wadhams, 3/10).

Devex: On Africa trip, Tillerson blames clearance issues for diplomatic vacancies
“…In a speech at George Mason University right before leaving on the trip, Tillerson said one of the reasons he is visiting Kenya, in particular, is the country’s success in the implementation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. … But this program was on the chopping block in Trump’s budget request … This is the second year that the White House’s budget proposals have called for funding cuts to global efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. Congress rejected those cuts and maintained levels of spending of PEPFAR…” (Jerving, 3/9).

New York Times: Tillerson’s Nairobi Visit Highlights Proposed Spending Cuts
“… Mr. Tillerson … was due to visit an HIV/AIDS clinic on Saturday where a handful of young women were going to explain how vital the program is, but the visit was canceled because he was sick. In interviews, the women said they were deeply concerned about the proposed cutbacks. … Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill have vowed to preserve PEPFAR’s funding…” (Harris, 3/11).

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Trump Administration Offers Conflicting Words, Actions On Several Issues In Africa, Including HIV/AIDS

Associated Press: Trump Administration’s Words, Deeds on Africa Are Colliding
“…U.S. words and deeds are colliding as [U.S. Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson travels across Africa. On trade policy, HIV/AIDS, and humanitarian aid, the United States at times seems at odds with itself, muddying efforts to show it wants the continent to flourish and is here to help. … American leadership has been repeatedly questioned since Trump took office in January 2017 as Washington pulls back from past commitments to NATO, to the United Nations, and to aid programs that form the core of U.S. ‘soft power’ diplomacy. Tillerson’s trip to Kenya was designed in part to highlight the success of PEPFAR … So HIV/AIDS advocates are scratching their heads at why Trump has repeatedly proposed cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from PEPFAR…” (Lederman, 3/12).

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USAID, FAO Train 4.7K Veterinarians In 25 Countries To Help Prevent Disease Outbreaks Among Animals, Humans

Feedstuffs: USAID, FAO working to pre-empt next global pandemic
“A U.S.-U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) partnership working to strengthen the capacity of developing countries to manage outbreaks of diseases in farm animals has, in just 12 months, succeeded in training more than 4,700 veterinary health professionals in 25 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. … ‘Over the course of this relationship, we’ve learned that there are many mutually beneficial areas of interest between the food and agricultural community and the human health community,’ said Dennis Carroll, director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Global Health Security & Development Unit…” (3/9).

U.N. News: Over 4,700 U.N. agency trained veterinarians new vanguard against deadly disease outbreaks
“…In addition to keeping fowl, cattle, pigs, and other animals safe, the freshly trained veterinarians will also help keep at bay diseases that are deadly to humans. ‘Some 75 percent of new infectious diseases that have emerged in recent decades originated in animals before jumping to us Homo sapiens, a terrestrial mammal,’ says Juan Lubroth, the chief veterinary officer at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which has been organizing the trainings over the past year…” (3/9).

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International Aid Sector, Opposition MPs Criticize Humanitarian Aid Deal Between U.K., Saudi Arabia

Devex: Aid sector slams DFID partnership with Saudi Arabia
“The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development has come under fire from the aid sector for signing a 100 million British pound ($138.45 million) aid partnership with Saudi Arabia’s development arm. The deal, announced by DFID during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to London last week, was quickly denounced by NGOs and opposition politicians. Kate Osamor, the shadow international development secretary, said the move allowed the Saudi government to ‘whitewash’ its reputation and role in the Yemen war…” (Edwards, 3/12).

The Guardian: ‘A national disgrace’: fury over £100m aid deal between U.K. and Saudi Arabia
“…Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, said: ‘The Saudi Fund has a long record of investing in successful development projects around the world.’ … Allan Hogarth, head of policy and government affairs at Amnesty International U.K., also voiced concern over the deal. He said: … ‘It is not good enough for the U.K. to provide humanitarian aid on the one hand and supply the weapons that fuel a humanitarian crisis on the other’ (McVeigh/Summers, 3/9).

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WHO Includes 'Disease X' On Priority List To Highlight Global Need For Outbreak Preparedness For Unknown Threats

Forbes: Disease X Is What May Become The Biggest Infectious Threat To Our World
“…There is a high probability that the next big epidemic will come from a completely unexpected source, a pathogen that has not yet revealed itself. And as they say, the most dangerous enemy is the one that you don’t know…” (Lee, 3/10).

Newsweek: ‘Disease X’: The Mystery Malady That Could One Day Kill Millions
“A new global threat dubbed ‘Disease X’ has been added to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of maladies that could cause a worldwide epidemic — even though it doesn’t actually exist yet. The mysterious malady is meant to represent a ‘known unknown’ that could be created by biological mutation in the future, WHO said on its website…” (Da Silva, 3/11).

New York Post: ‘Disease X’ could be the world’s worst nightmare
“…By including this mystery killer on its ‘List of Blueprint priority diseases,’ along with eight better-known diseases such as MERS and Marburg virus, WHO was aiming to acknowledge that infectious diseases are unpredictable…” (Connelly, 3/10).

The Telegraph: Beware ‘Disease X’: the mystery killer keeping scientists awake at night
“…It has been included on the list not to terrify us, but to ensure that the global health community builds the resilience and capacity needed to tackle all threats — not just the predictable ones…” (Shaikh, 3/10).

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WHO Warns Of Increased Attacks On Syrian Medical Facilities; U.N., Partners Reach Eastern Ghouta To Deliver Remaining Aid

Agence France-Presse: WHO reports surge in attacks on Syrian medical targets
“The frequency of attacks on medical facilities in Syria spiked through the first two months of the year, far outpacing last year’s rate, the World Health Organization said Friday…” (3/9).

CNN: Attacks on Syrian medical facilities on the rise, WHO says
“…The organization has counted 67 attacks on medical units so far in 2018 — roughly half as many as all of last year, according to WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier. In 2017, WHO counted 112 attacks on Syrian health care facilities and medical workers…” (Qiblawi, 3/9).

VOA News: WHO: Alarming Spike in Attacks Against Health Workers, Facilities in Syria
“…Lindmeier said the attacks have had devastating consequences for the civilian population in these combat zones. In the month of February alone, he says violent incidents disrupted 15,000 medical consultations and nearly 1,500 surgeries, many life-saving…” (Schlein, 3/11).

Xinhua News: WHO says 67 attacks on health care in Syria till end of February is “marked increase”
“…[Lindmeier] said WHO calls on all parties in Syria to immediately halt attacks on medical and humanitarian personnel, their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities. … ‘Health workers and health facilities are not a target. It has to stop,’ he said, noting that medical facilities and medical personnel have special protection under international humanitarian law…” (3/9).

U.N. News: Syria: U.N. aid convoy returns to Eastern Ghouta
“The United Nations and partners on Friday reached the Syrian city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta to complete distribution of food aid after intense shelling cut short deliveries to the war-torn enclave earlier this week…” (3/9).

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African Leaders Formalize Plan To Boost Efforts To Meet Nutrition-Related SDGs

News Deeply’s Malnutrition Deeply: African Leaders Aim to Revive Efforts to Meet Global Nutrition Goals
“Not one African country is on track to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030, according to new data released late last month. A few weeks earlier, almost in anticipation, African leaders formalized a plan to ramp up the fight against malnutrition on the continent. … While there is no single reason behind this looming failure, experts say the absence of consistent political leadership has certainly been a factor…” (Green, 3/9).

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New WHO Guidelines Aim To Improve Global Tobacco Product Regulation

U.N. News: New U.N. health agency regulation guidelines aim to help countries end ‘reign’ of tobacco industry
“The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday launched new guidelines on the role that tobacco product regulations can play in saving lives by reducing the demand for tobacco and tobacco products — estimated to kill over seven million people annually. … The guide, titled Tobacco product regulation: Building laboratory testing capacity, provides practical and stepwise approaches to implementing tobacco testing relevant to a wide range of countries, especially those with inadequate resources to establish testing facilities…” (3/9).

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Successive Droughts In Horn Of Africa Increase Region's Food Insecurity

New York Times: Hotter, Drier, Hungrier: How Global Warming Punishes the World’s Poorest
“…Four severe droughts have walloped the [Horn of Africa] in the last two decades, a rapid succession that has pushed millions of the world’s poorest to the edge of survival. Amid this new normal, a people long hounded by poverty and strife has found itself on the frontline of a new crisis: climate change. More than 650,000 children under age five across vast stretches of Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia are severely malnourished. The risk of famine stalks people in all three countries; at least 12 million people rely on food aid, according to the United Nations…” (Sengupta, 3/12).

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More News In Global Health

Associated Press: Rumors, mistrust hinder Brazil yellow fever vaccine campaign (DiLorenzo, 3/12).

Deutsche Welle: New virus strain behind HIV explosion in the Philippines (Santos, 3/9).

Financial Times: Special Report: FT Health: Combating Dementia (Multiple authors, 3/11).

NPR: Medical Cargo Could Be The Gateway For Routine Drone Deliveries (Landhuis, 3/10).

Science: A daily pill can prevent HIV infections. Why don’t more people use it? (Cohen, 3/9).

VOA News: Global Obesity Battle: What You Eat and How You Think (Lee, 3/10).

Vox: Why Lassa, an Ebola-like fever, has exploded in Nigeria (Belluz, 3/10).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Congress Must Maintain Global Health Security Agenda Investments

Slate: Trump Is Putting Us on Course for a Global Health Disaster
Patrick Adams, freelance journalist, and Cameron Nutt, student at Harvard Medical School

“…Presidential budget requests may be little more than political messaging, but funding for the CDC efforts [under the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA)] … is, in fact, very much in peril. … The Global Health Security Agenda has registered important early achievements during its first four years, and CDC leaders had planned to build on those gains with renewed funding for the program in 2020. … While Congress could certainly appropriate additional funding on its own, CDC officials’ private discussions with House and Senate Republicans have evidently given them little reason to believe that this will occur; well before Trump’s budget request was made public, they sent out internal guidance to begin the closure of 39 of the 49 GHSA programs started since 2014. … Unless enough members of Congress can be convinced to reverse the course President Trump has charted, [the cycle of neglect] will surely continue, with consequences for us all” (3/9).

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Trump Administration's Actions On Family Planning Investments Will Have Global, Domestic Impacts

CNN: Why is the U.S. rolling back this high-return global investment?
Seema Jalan, executive director of the U.N. Foundation’s Universal Access Project

“…By reinstating and massively expanding the global gag rule in January 2017, defunding the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) just a few months later, and proposing to cut funding for international reproductive health and family planning … the Trump administration has created a perfect storm that jeopardizes the health and rights of millions of the world’s most marginalized women and families and threatens global economic progress. … Clearly, the actions underway by the current administration represent a monumental step backward in our standing as a global health leader and will grind to a halt the ripple effect of growth and prosperity that is sparked when women can plan their families and their futures. … Women’s access to birth control is not only a fundamental human right, it is one of the best investments we can make in the world’s future. It pays off in the short term with savings in other health care areas … It also pays off in the long term by unlocking the economic potential of a country’s women and youth. … But in the past year, U.S. policymakers have taken drastic steps backward that will cut this progress off at the knees … It may seem worlds away, but there is no doubt that this rollback will impact us here at home as the lowest-income countries around the world lose the broad returns on our global family planning investments…” (3/10).

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U.S. Should Take Action Against War Crimes Being Committed In Eastern Ghouta

Washington Post: Trump gives the Assad regime an open invitation to keep gassing children
Editorial Board

“Nearly two weeks after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution mandating a 30-day cease-fire in Syria, Russian and government forces are … attempting to overrun the rebel-held area of Eastern Ghouta, outside Damascus, where nearly 400,000 people have been besieged since 2013. Scores of people are being killed each day … There have been numerous reports of attacks on hospitals and schools and of the use of chlorine gas — all of which are war crimes. … Hundreds of medical workers have been killed or injured in airstrikes, and women have begun giving birth at home rather than risk going to a hospital. … When he was asked about Eastern Ghouta, … [President Trump] reiterated his view that the only U.S. interest in Syria was ‘to get rid of ISIS and to go home.’ For the Assad regime and Russia, that’s an open invitation to continue gassing children, bombing hospitals, and committing other war crimes” (3/10).

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U.S. Withholding Of UNRWA Funding Hurts Middle East's Children As Humanitarian Situation Worsens

The Hill: The U.S. is gambling with the future of half a million kids in the Middle East
Abby Smardon, executive director of UNRWA USA

“The humanitarian situation is getting worse in the Gaza Strip and throughout the Middle East, as the United States continues to withhold critical assistance from Palestinian refugees by freezing funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Families are running out of food, health clinics are in danger of closing, and UNRWA security officers are being laid off. … Failing to follow through on its historical commitment to support this vulnerable community, of which it has been the single largest donor for nearly 70 years, means that the U.S. will be responsible for denying the basic human rights of a generation or more of refugee children. Instead, America must demonstrate that it holds dear the notion that no marginalized community is more important or worthy than the next…” (3/9).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Expansion Of Mexico City Policy Could Produce 'Harmful Impacts,' HRW Says

Human Rights Watch: Tillerson Visits Africa, Where Women’s Reproductive Rights Are Key to Future
In the wake of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Africa, Agnes Odhiambo, senior researcher in the Women’s Rights Division at HRW, discusses the potential ‘harmful impacts’ of the Trump administration’s expanded Mexico City policy (3/9).

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FHI 360 Podcast Discusses Role Of Women During Humanitarian Crises With U.N. Women Executive Director

FHI 360’s “A Deeper Look Podcast”: Women as leaders in conflict response
In this podcast episode, FHI 360 CEO Patrick Fine speaks with U.N. Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of U.N. Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka “about the crucial role women take during humanitarian crises” (3/9).

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Wilson Center Event Highlights Role Of Strengthening Health Systems To Improve RMNCAH Services

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: Strengthening Health Systems Improves Health Care for Women, Children, and Youth
Yuval Cohen, intern with the Maternal Health Initiative at the Wilson Center, highlights remarks from panelists at a Wilson Center event on addressing health system barriers to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health (RMNCAH) services. Panelists discussed the role of health workers, governance and financing, and data in improving health systems (3/9).

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Open Society Foundations Interview Discusses Woman's Efforts To Obtain An Abortion In Brazil

Open Society Foundations’ “Voices”: Q&A: The Woman Who Challenged Brazil’s Abortion Taboo
“Last year, Anis: Institute of Bioethics, Human Rights, and Gender put out a call on Facebook asking women to tell their stories about abortion in Brazil. More than 200 came forward in just 19 days. Brooke Havlik, communications officer at the Open Society Foundations, spoke with Luciana Brito of Anis about what happened next…” (2/27).

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Understanding Country Contexts Critical To Using Performance-Based Financing As Health System Development Tool

Health Affairs Blog: Pragmatism, Not Ideology, Must Drive Health Systems Development
Yogesh Rajkotia, founder and CEO of ThinkWell, and Leah Breen, analyst and writer at ThinkWell, discuss the role of performance-based financing (PBF) in strengthening health services and accelerating progress toward reaching global health targets, as well as the importance of understanding country contexts (3/9).

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Study Highlights Need For Improved Access To Xpert TB Tests Among Children, Detects High Levels Of Drug-Resistant Cases

PLOS ONE: Accelerating access to quality TB care for pediatric TB cases through better diagnostic strategy in four major cities of India
In this study, researchers from India’s Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics and colleagues addressed challenges to pediatric tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis in four Indian cities, where the study offered “free-of-cost Xpert testing to pediatric presumptive TB cases.” The researchers concluded the “project demonstrated the feasibility of rolling out rapid and upfront Xpert testing for pediatric presumptive TB cases through a single Xpert lab per city in an efficient manner,” and called for more access to the tests due to “high levels of rifampicin resistance detected in presumptive pediatric TB patients,” which serve as “a major cause of concern from a public health perspective” (2/28).

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FT Health Discusses Global Health Leadership Gender Gap, Features Interview With Philips CEO

FT Health: The vast gender gap in health
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter discusses the gender gap in global health leadership. The newsletter also features an interview with Frans van Houten, chief executive of Philips, about the health technology group’s focus and vision, as well as provides a roundup of other global health-related news stories (Dodd/Jack, 3/9).

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From the U.S. Government

USAID Administrator Releases Statement On International Women's Day

USAID: Statement by Administrator Green on International Women’s Day
“[O]n International Women’s Day, we celebrate achievements on the journey to gender equality and women’s empowerment around the world. … At USAID, we believe gender equality and women’s empowerment are not just a part of development, but are the core of development. We are committed to breaking down the barriers that keep women from reaching their full potential…” (3/8).

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