KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump Administration Considers University Of Maryland HIV/AIDS Expert Robert Redfield To Head CDC

The Hill: HIV/AIDS expert expected as Trump’s next pick to head CDC: report
“Robert Redfield, an HIV/AIDS expert at the University of Maryland Medical Center, is seen as the White House’s favored candidate to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to POLITICO…” (Sanchez, 3/17).

New York Times: AIDS Researcher Top Candidate to Lead the CDC
“…A formal announcement about the candidate, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, could come as early as Tuesday, once the vetting has been finished, said an administration official with knowledge of the appointment, who was not authorized to speak publicly…” (Kaplan, 3/17).

POLITICO: Exclusive: AIDS researcher favored to be next CDC chief
“…Redfield emerged this week as the favored choice to replace former CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, who resigned in late January after POLITICO reported she had traded tobacco, drug, and food stocks while heading the public health agency. … [T]he administration is carefully vetting Redfield after Fitzgerald’s complex financial conflicts forced her recusal from agency priorities, such as the opioids crisis and cancer, during her seven months on the job…” (Diamond/Ehley, 3/16).

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Rising U.S. Interest Rates Pressure Developing Countries, Following 60% Increase In Debt Repayments Since 2014, Report Shows

The Guardian: Developing countries at risk from U.S. rate rise, debt charity warns
“The expected rise in U.S. interest rates will increase financial pressures on developing countries already struggling with a 60 percent jump in their debt repayments since 2014, a leading charity has warned. The Jubilee Debt Campaign said a study of 126 developing nations showed that they were devoting more than 10 percent of their revenues on average to paying the interest on money borrowed — the highest level since before the G7 agreement to write off the debts of the world’s poorest nations at Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005…” (Elliot, 3/18).

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Sub-Saharan Africa's Efforts To Prevent HIV Must Focus More On Young Women, Experts Say

Wall Street Journal: Slowdown in HIV/AIDS Progress Puts Focus on Young Women
“Public health leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS have come to an ominous realization: Progress in cutting new infections has slowed, in part because of a persistent cycle of transmission among young women in sub-Saharan Africa. … The slowdown has alarmed public health experts, who warn that infections could start rising again. A reversal would erase progress against one of the most significant infectious disease epidemics of modern times, costing lives, economic prosperity, and billions more dollars than governments and organizations have already spent to fight it over decades. … The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief … said in December that new HIV diagnoses in women ages 15 to 24 have declined at least 25 percent since 2015 in 65 percent of the communities where its DREAMS programs were initially implemented…” (McKay, 3/16).

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WEF Calls For Disease Outbreak Preparedness Among Health, Travel, Tourism Industries

Xinhua News: WEF urges experts to be ready for next global outbreak of infectious disease
“The World Economic Forum (WEF) said Wednesday that in today’s globalized world, a pathogen can travel from a remote village to major cities on all continents in under 36 hours, urging health, travel, and tourism leaders to improve decision-making, coordination, and communications to lessen the impact…” (3/15).

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World Water Development Report Calls For More Nature-Based Solutions To Prevent Global Water Shortages

The Guardian: Water shortages could affect 5bn people by 2050, U.N. report warns
“More than five billion people could suffer water shortages by 2050 due to climate change, increased demand, and polluted supplies, according to a U.N. report on the state of the world’s water. The comprehensive annual study warns of conflict and civilizational threats unless actions are taken to reduce the stress on rivers, lakes, aquifers, wetlands, and reservoirs. The World Water Development Report … says positive change is possible, particularly in the key agricultural sector, but only if there is a move towards nature-based solutions that rely more on soil and trees than steel and concrete…” (Watts, 3/19).

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Quartz Africa Examines Misuse Of Opioid Tramadol Throughout Continent

Quartz Africa: There’s an opioid abuse problem unfolding in African cities and it’s not getting the attention it needs
“…Africa remains one of the regions least served with effective pain relief medicine and although Tramadol is not the strongest of analgesics, it is a darling on prescription lists. That’s because unlike other opioids such as methadone and fentanyl, Tramadol is not internationally regulated, hence it is cheap and readily available for patients. … [I]n the last decade, the continent has seen a significant rise in the non-medical use of Tramadol, which produces similar effects to the ‘high’ caused by heroin. … Some African governments are slowly starting to pay attention…” (Asiedu, 3/16).

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War-Torn Yemen's Diphtheria Outbreak Sign Of Nearly Collapsed Health System; More Than 1.3K Infected

Al Jazeera: Yemen: Diphtheria outbreak ‘symptoms of collapsed health system’
“…These facilities here are basic. Yemen’s health system has nearly collapsed after three years of war. Most health workers have not been paid this year. Barely 50 percent of all health facilities are functioning…” (Hoexter, 3/18).

Associated Press: WHO says diphtheria infected over 1,300 people in Yemen
“The World Health Organization says a diphtheria outbreak in war-torn Yemen has spread rapidly nationwide and infected more than 1,300 people. WHO said in a statement that children and young adults account for almost 80 percent of cases and more than 70 people have died…” (3/17).

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More News In Global Health

1A: How Prepared Is The World For A Major Epidemic? (Johnson, 3/15).

Al Jazeera: Sierra Leone: Ebola survivors ‘not getting help’ they need (Idris, 3/18).

The Atlantic: Fixing the World’s Oldest Health Problem (Newkirk, 3/16).

BBC News: In Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, a doctor’s battle: ‘We will stay until the end’ (Gunter, 3/17).

Borgen Magazine: Melinda Gates and the Fight Against Global Poverty (Cruz, 3/17).

CNN: Two polio workers killed in attack in Pakistan (Saifi/Andone, 3/18).

Devex: Uganda cholera outbreak slows, but violence in DRC complicates recovery (Roby, 3/19).

Global Health NOW: #CUGH2018 Warm-Up with Keith Martin (Myers, 3/16).

NPR: After Oxfam’s Sex Scandal: Shocking Revelations, A Scramble For Solutions (Columbus, 3/16).

Reuters: Deadly listeria could herald tighter food safety rules in South Africa (Kelland, 3/16).

U.N. News: Alarmed by plight of Central African refugees in Chad, U.N. urges funding to scale up humanitarian response (3/16).

VOA News: U.N.: African Women Need Voice in Politics to Achieve Equality (Bior/Achiek, 3/16).

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Editorials and Opinions

World Must Prepare Now For Future, Yet Unknown, Global Disease Outbreaks

The Hill: 100 years after the influenza pandemic — are we prepared for another epidemic?
Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)

“…Now 100 years [after the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic], our capacity to protect ourselves is vastly improved but we are still remarkably vulnerable to an outbreak of a deadly virus. … It was the inadequacy of the world’s response [to the 2014 Ebola epidemic] that led directly to the creation of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) … Our goal is to finance and coordinate vaccine development to protect ourselves from future epidemics. … The reason we need this now more than ever is that pathogens are spreading faster and emerging more frequently than ever before due to ecological changes, urbanization, and increased mobility. … We cannot prevent pathogens from emerging, but we can prevent the devastation they can cause, through better preparedness and a faster response. To be most effective, however, we need to work together. U.S. citizens will benefit from the world’s collective efforts to prepare against pandemics because, as we learn again and again, dangerous pathogens do not respect borders” (3/17).

The Guardian: Are we prepared for the looming epidemic threat?
Jonathan D. Quick, senior fellow at Management Sciences for Health and board chair of the Global Health Council

“…Many leaders, economists, and scientists believe that the risk of potentially devastating epidemics could be prevented for a fraction of the cost of battling an out of control global pandemic. The obvious question is this: why aren’t we deploying absolutely everything we have to make sure that the next disease outbreak doesn’t turn into a global catastrophe? There are three broad answers. First, there’s fear. … We respond to the fear of epidemic disease by wanting to blame someone else. … Second is denial and complacency, which often starts at the top, with political leaders or public health officials who reject the reality before them. … Finally, financial self-interest: … How many times do governments and leaders plead that there is no budget for preparedness? … Not recognizing these failings — and not doing everything we can in spite of them to prevent a potentially staggering loss of life and livelihood — would be not just irresponsible, but criminal. … We know how to stop the next epidemic. This is no excuse for unpreparedness. If we are to save ourselves and our children we must act decisively. The threat is real. The pathway is known. The time for action is now” (3/18).

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Power Of Global Health Diplomacy Could Help End TB In Asia, Worldwide

The Diplomat: Time to End Tuberculosis in Asia — and the World
Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of WHO Southeast Asia

“The drive to end tuberculosis (TB) as a public health threat by 2030 has reached a tipping point. … In TB-affected countries, including those of the Southeast Asian region, domestic funding for TB programs has increased dramatically. … [T]hat support will be tested by the willingness of governments and their representatives throughout the world to get on board and match national, regional, and global momentum with actionable assistance. … September’s High-Level Meeting on TB, occurring alongside the U.N. General Assembly, is an opportune time for the global community to do just that: recognize, appreciate, and honor (via quantifiable assistance) the commitment to ending TB that has been expressed and pursued daily in TB-affected countries across the world, and which was reiterated once again in New Delhi this week. Indeed, it is an opportune time to demonstrate the full power and potential of global health diplomacy, not only as a means of strengthening the bonds between emerging and developed economies, but of bringing real change to the lives of millions of people and, in the process, creating a healthier, more prosperous, and secure world…” (3/16).

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Kenya Can Implement Policies, Enhance Access To Care To Reduce Unsafe Abortions

The Conversation: Kenya is paying a heavy human and financial cost for unsafe abortions
Estelle Monique Sidze, associate research scientist at the African Population and Health Research Center, and Hailemichael Gebreselassie, senior research adviser at Ipas

“One of the critical targets for countries that are trying to meet the Sustainable Development Goals is reducing the number of mothers who die from complications during or immediately after their pregnancies. … In Kenya, this is still a challenge. Every year for every 100,000 births 495 women die. One of the major contributors to this figure are the complications that women sustain during unsafe abortions. … To manage the problem Kenya needs to take urgent action to implement policies and laws that it has in place that are designed to protect women, particularly their reproductive rights. For example, women need better access to a range of contraceptives. But this kind of change requires political will to strengthen governmental institutions and agencies mandated to protect women’s health…” (3/18).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Human Rights Watch Post Discusses U.S. Decision To Again Withhold UNFPA Funding

Human Rights Watch: U.S. Blocks Funds to U.N. Population Fund — Again
Amanda Klasing, senior researcher in Human Rights Watch’s Women’s Rights Division, writes, “U.S. officials quietly renewed a decision made last year to block funding for the U.N. Population Fund — known as UNFPA. It’s hard to know exactly what justification the administration has advanced for this decision … However, the U.N. Population Fund has been told that, like last year, the Trump administration is claiming it violates the Kemp-Kasten amendment…” (3/16).

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Brookings Fellow Examines U.S. Public's Understanding Of Foreign Aid In New Article

Brookings Institution’s “FixGov”: Americans Overestimate Foreign Aid? Not So Fast
Vanessa Williamson, Brookings fellow in governance studies, discusses her new article published in American Politics Research, in which she examines “what Americans actually mean when they talk about foreign aid,” and how leaders’ use of “the language of humanitarianism to describe military endeavors” could influence public understanding of foreign aid (3/19).

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Special Issue Of Global Health Governance Journal Focuses On Human Rights

Global Health Governance: Special Issue: Human Rights in Global Health Governance
This special issue of Global Health Governance features several articles on human rights in the context of global health governance (3/15).

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FT Health Discusses Dementia-Related Research, Innovations

FT Health: New strategies on dementia
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter highlights a special report from the Financial Times focused on dementia and provides a roundup of other global health-related news stories (Dodd/Jack, 3/16).

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From the U.S. Government

MMWR Article Discusses Recent Yellow Fever Cases Among Travelers To Brazil, Recommends Vaccination

CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”: Fatal Yellow Fever in Travelers to Brazil, 2018
This MMWR article discusses recent yellow fever cases, including fatalities, among international travelers to Brazil. The authors recommend travelers to Brazil obtain yellow fever immunizations and note, “Clinicians assessing returned travelers should be aware of yellow fever signs and symptoms and maintain vigilance regarding the possibility of yellow fever exposure in travelers returning from Brazil or other areas with ongoing transmission of yellow fever” (Hamer et al., 3/16).

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