KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Experts React To White House FY 2020 Budget Request Calling For Increase In Domestic HIV Funding, Cuts To Bilateral HIV Spending

NBC News: Trump’s budget adds domestic HIV funding while slashing global outlays
“The Trump administration Monday unveiled its 2020 budget proposal, which contains a $291 million request to fund the president’s ‘Ending the HIV Epidemic’ plan. … The $140 million allotted for the CDC is an 18 percent increase over what it received last year, according to Jen Kates, vice president [and director] of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. ‘That’s a pretty significant jump,’ she added. … [But s]he said proposed cuts to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund, which fund treatment and prevention in poor countries, could work against the most well-intentioned domestic efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic…” (Fitzsimons, 3/12).

New York Times: Trump Lauded Farmers, Medicare and AIDS Programs. Then Came His Budget Knife.
“…Mr. Trump has promised that his administration will help [eliminate] AIDS over the next 10 years. … Mr. Trump’s budget would provide $291 million to the Department of Health and Human Services to defeat the disease, but funding would shrink for global programs trying to do the same thing. … ‘Congress will forget this budget by Friday, but the signal it sends to the world’s poorest will be remembered,’ Tom Hart, the North America executive director for the [ONE] campaign, said in a statement. ‘We can’t end the AIDS crisis by cutting programs proven to fight this disease’…” (Rogers, 3/12).

The Telegraph: America first: Trump boosts domestic spending on HIV but slashes help for those overseas
“…The budget also unveiled a reduced U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which this year is looking for its next three-year tranche of funding. The U.S. will [pledge] $3.3bn between 2020 and 2023, a reduction on its previous [pledge] of $4.3bn. In a statement, the Global Fund said: “The United States is the leading supporter of the Global Fund, and we are confident that the U.S. Congress will continue the strong funding that is urgently needed to improve global health security by ending epidemics. Various proposals are being considered and we look forward to final budget decisions taken by Congress in the coming months’…” (Gulland, 3/12).

Washington Post: Trump budget calls for $291 million to fund HIV initiative
“…On PEPFAR, [the White House FY20 budget request] would provide $3.35 billion for bilateral efforts at the State Department and [eliminate funding at] the U.S. Agency for International Development, about [29] percent below fiscal 2019 levels. On the Global Fund, the budget proposes $958.4 million, which is 29 percent below the fiscal 2019 level. ‘It’s hard to square (the [domestic] HIV initiative) with these significant cuts,’ Kates said, referring to Trump’s promise in his State of the Union speech to ‘defeat AIDS in America and beyond’…” (Sun, 3/11).

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Science Examines Reaction To Recently Announced WHO Reforms

Science: The planet’s premier health agency has announced drastic reforms. Critics say they aren’t drastic enough
“…[WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently announced reforms that] aim to bring more talent to WHO and improve coordination between its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and six regional offices. But some observers say Tedros’s agenda doesn’t address long-standing problems, including a chronic shortage of money, little power over how to spend it, and the regional offices’ prickly independence…” (Kupferschmidt, 3/12).

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Air Pollution Could Be Killing 8.8M People Worldwide Annually, More Deaths Than Caused By Smoking

Newsweek: Air Pollution Is Killing More People Than We Thought
“Air pollution could be killing 8.8 million people worldwide each year — almost double the figure previously thought, that’s according to the authors of a study, who said their findings highlighted the ‘urgent and important’ need to tackle the issue. Deaths caused by air pollution appear to have overtaken those caused by smoking, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal. In 2015, air pollution was thought to be responsible for 8.79 million deaths, compared with the 7.2 million caused by tobacco smoking, the study — which focused on Europe — found…” (Gander, 3/12).

Additional coverage of the study is available from Al Jazeera, Agence France-Presse, and The Guardian.

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Italy Requires Children To Show Complete Immunization Records To Attend School

BBC News: Italy bans unvaccinated children from school
“Italian children have been told not to turn up to school unless they can prove they have been properly vaccinated. … The new law came amid a surge in measles cases — but Italian officials say vaccination rates have improved since it was introduced. Under Italy’s so-called Lorenzin law — named after the former health minister who introduced it — children must receive a range of mandatory immunizations before attending school. They include vaccinations for chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella…” (3/12).

Additional coverage of the new Italian law is available from Newsweek, New York Times, and The Telegraph.

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Italian Health Minister Discusses Effort To Push For Global Transparency On Drug Prices In STAT Interview

STAT: Why the Italian health minister is pushing for global transparency on drug pricing
“Last month, the Italian government asked the World Health Assembly to adopt a resolution to require drug makers to disclose their R&D and production costs, as well as prices charged for medicines and vaccines. Italian Health Minister Giulia Grillo wrote to the World Health Organization that ‘international action is required to improve transparency’ in order to widen access to pharmaceuticals. … In effect, the proposal would set an international standard, but is likely to get pushback from the pharmaceutical industry. We spoke with Grillo, who publicly announced the move on Tuesday, about the effort…” (Silverman, 3/12).

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Nearly Week-Long Power Outage In Venezuela Impacting Access To Clean Water, Food, Medical Care

The Atlantic: Ongoing Blackouts Hit Already Struggling Venezuelans
“Last Thursday, a massive power outage struck across much of Venezuela, affecting huge parts of its infrastructure, from clean water and food storage to medical care, communications, and more. Amid a years-long economic crisis and building political crisis, the Venezuelan government and its opposition are blaming each other for the collapse of the power grid…” (Taylor, 3/12).

Reuters: Desperate Venezuelans swarm sewage drains in search of water
“…The lack of water has become one of the most excruciating side effects of the nationwide blackout that the government of President Nicolas Maduro has blamed on U.S.-backed sabotage but his critics call the product of corruption and incompetence. The blackout has worsened the situation of a country already facing a hyperinflationary economic collapse that has spurred a mass migration and turned once-basic items like corn flour and toilet paper into unaffordable luxuries for most people. … Many worry about the spread of disease. The lack of water compounds the inability to buy soap due to soaring prices or chronic shortages…” (Ellsworth/Sequera, 3/11).

Scientific American: Infectious Diseases Spike amid Venezuela’s Political Turmoil
“Cases of malaria, dengue fever, Zika, and other serious illnesses have reached alarming levels in Venezuela and are spilling over into neighboring countries, according to several recent studies. These so-called vector-borne diseases — transmitted by mosquitoes or other organisms — have increased by as much as 400 percent in Venezuela in the last decade, according to a review study published in The Lancet in February…” (Daley, 3/12).

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More News In Global Health

CIDRAP News: WHO: Ebola spread in DRC still ‘moderate’ (Soucheray, 3/12).

Devex: What next in the fight against Lassa fever? (Adepoju, 3/13).

NPR: Measles Is Spiking Around The Globe. How Worried Should We Be? (Wamsley, 3/12).

SciDev.Net: Vaccine cuts new pneumonia cases in kids by a quarter (Achieng’, 3/12).

The Telegraph: Heavy flooding kills 45 people and displaces 15,000 families in Malawi (Newey, 3/12).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: ‘No tomorrow’ for many unless consumption falls — U.N. (Bhalla, 3/12).

Xinhua News: Some 538 Cambodians infected with HIV in 2018: health minister (3/12).

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Editorials and Opinions

Clean Water, Sanitation Vital To Global Health

USA TODAY: If you’re safe from cholera, thank my dad, a plumber (and thank the ancient Romans)
Lindsay Denny, senior public health program associate for the Center for Global Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at Emory University and health adviser for Global Water 2020

“…The singular effectiveness of clean water, toilets, and soap in preventing the spread of disease is clear. … Feces is laden with pathogens that can be transmitted from one person’s gut to another person via contaminated water, hands, or food, and can make that person sick with dozens of illnesses and diseases, some very serious. In simplest terms, sanitation provides a critical barrier that keeps fecal waste from getting in your mouth. Sanitation and safe water are among the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, and along with vaccinations, are the best innovations to control infectious disease. The impact can hardly be overstated, and we’ve come to expect the convenience and safety of this basic necessity. … I look to more governments, nongovernmental organizations, and the public to better understand the fundamental importance of sanitation to secure global health. And along the way to appreciate the legacy of the plumber as a public health protector” (3/11).

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Reform At All Levels Needed To Ensure Sustainable Food Systems

Financial Times: Why we need to talk about a healthier way of feeding the world
Andrew Jack, FT global education editor

“…A Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems estimated in January that unhealthy diets account for up to 11m avoidable premature deaths globally each year, posing a greater risk of illness and death than unsafe sex, alcohol, drugs, and tobacco combined. … Reversing course will not be easy. Governments and regulators must play a more interventionist role, from investment in basic education and encouragement of cooking and better nutrition, to tougher regulation of advertising for unhealthy foods and taxes on unhealthy ingredients. The price of food should reflect its true costs, including the wider environmental burden of current production methods. … Agri-food companies need to invest in forms of production that are more intensive but less damaging to biodiversity. … Restaurants and supermarkets also need to cut waste, including through suitable portion sizes. People must also take responsibility, shifting away from meat and dairy, adapting tastes, cutting down on waste, and appreciating the value of ‘slow food’ by cooking and eating together. Without more imaginative, varied diets and other ways to eat more healthily, as the Lancet Commission concludes, we will end up diet-poor and planet-poor…” (3/11).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CFR Writer Discusses Global Rise In Measles Cases, Threat Of Anti-Vaccination Movement To Global Health Progress

Council on Foreign Relations: Measles and the Threat of the Anti-vaccination Movement
Claire Felter, copy editor/writer at CFR, discusses the global rise in measles cases and the threat of vaccine skepticism, writing, “The anti-vaccination movement threatens to undo years of progress made against a range of preventable diseases. … Until governments turn the tide of the anti-vaccination movement, health workers will face the dual challenge of containing measles in both countries where the disease is still endemic and those where it was thought long gone” (3/12).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Secretary Of State Provides Update On Political, Humanitarian Situation In Venezuela

U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote”: An Update on the Situation in Venezuela
This blog post highlights remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the U.S. response to the political and humanitarian situation in Venezuela (3/12).

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