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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump Administration Submits Plan To Congress For Creation Of New U.S. Development Finance Corporation

Devex: New U.S. development finance institution edges toward launch
“The Trump administration has submitted a plan to Congress outlining what it will accomplish before the new U.S. Development Finance Corporation opens its doors in October. The document is fairly broad, but it does provide some insight into the process of creating the new agency…” (Saldinger, 3/19).

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U.K. Aid Chief Penny Mordaunt Reassures FCO Will Not Consume DFID, Aid Spending Target To Remain At 0.7%

Devex: ‘Chill out’ about DFID merger rumors, says Mordaunt
“The United Kingdom’s aid chief Penny Mordaunt has reassured civil society groups that the Department for International Development will not be ‘hoovered up’ by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and that there are no plans to scrap the 0.7 percent aid-spending target. Following recent concern in the aid community about the future of DFID, Mordaunt finally opened up about her plans for the department during her opening speech at the Bond conference in the U.K.’s capital city, London, on Monday…” (Edwards, 3/19).

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UNESCO, WaterAid Release Reports Warning Water Supplies Running Low In Some Cities, Poor People Worldwide Feel Greatest Impacts

Bloomberg: Africa’s Booming Cities Are Running Out of Water
“…Cities and towns in several … African nations including [Ghana,] Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Ivory Coast have been plagued by … water shortages in recent months, manifestations of a global supply squeeze brought on by drought, population growth, urbanization, and insufficient investment in dams and other infrastructure. Water use has risen about 1 percent a year since the 1980s and more than 2 billion people now live in countries experiencing high water stress, the United Nations said in its World Water Development Report released in Geneva on Tuesday. It projects demand will grow as much as 30 percent by 2050…” (Dontoh/Cohen, 3/18).

Deutsche Welle: World’s poor pay more for water than the rich: U.N.
“The U.N. released its annual World Water Development Report on Tuesday, which highlighted that some 2.1 billion people do not currently have access to clean and continuously available drinking water. An even larger number, 4.3 billion, do not have access to safe sanitation facilities. ‘Improved water resources management and access to safe water and sanitation for all is essential for eradicating poverty, building peaceful and prosperous societies, and ensuring that “no one is left behind” on the road towards sustainable development,’ said the 2019 UNESCO report, titled ‘Leaving No One Behind’…” (3/19).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Poor people’s right to water cut off by thirsty exports, unequal supply
“…Exports of crops — like coffee, rice, avocados, and cotton — are important sources of income for many countries. But large amounts of water are used to produce them, even as poor communities struggle to get enough for their basic needs, a situation made worse by climate change, WaterAid said in the report published on Tuesday. The world must ensure ‘the push for economic development through exports of food and clothing does not imperil current and future generations’ access to water,’ said WaterAid U.K. Chief Executive Tim Wainwright ahead of World Water Day on March 22…” (Rowling, 3/18).

VOA News: U.N. Report Finds Billions Still Lack Access to Water, Sanitation
“…The latest U.N. World Water Development Report finds myriad groups, including women and sometimes the elderly, can be excluded from what many of us consider basic services. Most have one thing in common: poverty. ‘Water has not been given the priority in terms of development policy that it should be,’ said Richard Connor, the report’s editor-in-chief. ‘If you look at electrification for instance, energy is seen as big business, something controlled by the private sector. Unfortunately, a lot of government leaders, they’re thinking taps and toilets, and they’re not seeing the truer, broader picture,’ Connor said…” (Bryant, 3/18).

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More Ebola Cases Recorded In DRC; Health Workers Face Attacks From Organized Groups As Well As Ordinary Citizens

CIDRAP News: DRC: 24 Ebola cases confirmed in past 72 hours
“The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) grew by 24 cases [Monday] and over the weekend, including several case-contacts who refused or delayed vaccination after family members fell ill. … The new cases bring the outbreak total to 960 cases, including 603 deaths. A total of 172 suspected cases are still under investigation…” (Soucheray, 3/18).

NPR: Health Workers In Congo Face Violent Threats In Addition To Ebola
“…According to Congolese officials, the Ebola treatment center that [CDC Director Robert] Redfield visited has been the target of organized, well-armed groups. … But last Thursday’s attack on [another] Ebola facility, that was a spontaneous outburst by ordinary citizens. … A lot of people [in DRC] think Ebola’s a scam … Now there’s growing concern that the steps the government and WHO are taking to curb the rising violence from organized groups — for instance bringing in the military or police or U.N. peacekeepers to provide protection — that these very moves could sow more distrust and lead to more violent resistance of the second kind, from ordinary people…” (Aizenman, 3/19).

Additional coverage of the Ebola outbreak and response, as well as DRC’s political situation, is available from Al Jazeera, The Economist, and VOA News.

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Death Toll From Cyclone Idai Expected To Rise In Southern Africa; U.N. Calls For End To 'Disaster-Response-Recovery' Cycle

Associated Press: Over 1,000 feared dead after cyclone slams into Mozambique
“More than 1,000 people were feared dead in Mozambique four days after a cyclone slammed into the country, submerging entire villages and leaving bodies floating in the floodwaters, the nation’s president said…” (Meldrum, 3/19).

The Guardian: Cyclone Idai ‘might be southern hemisphere’s worst such disaster’
“Cyclone Idai, the tropical storm ravaging southern Africa, is possibly the worst weather-related disaster to hit the southern hemisphere, with 1.7 million people affected in Mozambique and 920,000 in Malawi, U.N. officials have said. Storm surge floods up to six meters deep had caused ‘incredible devastation’ over a huge area, the U.N. World Food Programme regional director, Lola Castro, said…” (Maclean, 3/19).

U.N. News: ‘Break the cycle’ of disaster-response-recovery, urges top U.N. official, as death toll mounts from Cyclone Idai
“The destruction unleashed by Cyclone Idai on Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe continues to claim lives and displace thousands, in what the U.N.’s top disaster risk reduction official called on Monday ‘the worst extreme weather event to occur so far this year.’ ‘Cyclone Idai underlines that no matter how effective early warnings are, there is still a huge demand for greater investment in resilient infrastructure in many parts of the world if we are to break the cycle of disaster-response-recovery,’ U.N. Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Mami Mizutori said, extending her condolences to the peoples and governments of the three affected countries…” (3/18).

Additional coverage of the cyclone’s damage is available from Al Jazeera, BBC News, CNN, Reuters (2), and Wall Street Journal.

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Venezuela President Maduro Used Cuban International Medical Corps For Political Manipulation, New York Times Reports

New York Times: ‘It Is Unspeakable’: How Maduro Used Cuban Doctors to Coerce Venezuela Voters
“…To maintain their hold over Venezuela, [President Nicolás] Maduro and his supporters have often used the nation’s economic collapse to their advantage, dangling food before hungry voters, promising extra subsidies if he won, and demanding that people present identification cards tied to government rations when they came to the polls. But participants in the schemes say Mr. Maduro and his supporters have deployed another tool as well: Cuba’s international medical corps. In interviews, 16 members of Cuba’s medical missions to Venezuela — a signature element of relations between the two countries — described a system of deliberate political manipulation in which their services were wielded to secure votes for the governing Socialist Party, often through coercion…” (Casey/Zarate, 3/17).

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Washington Post Examines Imprisonment, Abuse Of LGBT Refugees In Kenya

Washington Post: These LGBT refugees came to Kenya seeking freedom. Now they’ve been imprisoned and abused.
“On Feb. 22, activists, reporters, and well-wishers from Kenya and all over the world gathered in a courtroom in Nairobi, hoping to witness a historic moment: the decriminalization of homosexual conduct for the first time in conservative East Africa, a region where anti-LGBT crackdowns are common, sometimes even at the behest of presidents. A judge ultimately deflated the room with a last-minute postponement of the ruling … But on that same day, 20 LGBT refugees who had come to Kenya hoping to escape repression in countries like Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo were spending their first full day in jail. Their ordeal has now lasted nearly a month, and demonstrates the difficulties LGBT people in Kenya face regardless of what happens in the courts…” (Bearak, 3/19).

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More News In Global Health

Agence France-Presse: Niger sounds alarm over ‘fake’ meningitis vaccine (3/15).

The BMJ: Overcoming vaccine hesitancy: five minutes with … Heidi Larson (Silberner, 3/18).

Ethiopian News Agency: Ministry Launches National Action Plan for Health Security (3/15).

Quartz: The British Medical Journal is the latest group to drop the baby formula industry (Timsit, 3/18).

Reuters: Uganda investigates U.N. food aid after three die, police say (Biryabarema, 3/19).

Scientific American: AI-Based App Could Screen for Cervical Cancer (Yan, April 2019).

Xinhua News: World Bank funds Laos to reduce malnutrition in children, poverty (3/19).

Xinhua News: Fiji raises awareness on tuberculosis (3/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

Governments, Private Sector Must Work To Stop Vaccine Hesitancy, Spread Of Misinformation

Financial Times: Anti-vax movement must be resisted for the sake of world health
Editorial Board

“…The World Health Organization has rightly named ‘vaccine hesitancy’ as one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019. Vaccination currently prevents 2m to 3m deaths a year worldwide, the WHO estimates, and a further 1.5m lives could be saved if global vaccination rates improved. … Every country should adopt the target of a 95 percent vaccination rate for the dozen diseases for which a safe, inexpensive, and effective childhood vaccine is available. … For administrative convenience, entry to compulsory education is a sensible point to enforce childhood vaccination. … The only circumstances in which authorities anywhere should allow children to avoid vaccination is on genuine medical grounds, such as when a defective immune system would significantly raise the risk of the procedure. Besides tightly enforcing vaccination at school entry, governments must insist that social media stem the flood of scientific hoaxes and misinformation that has propelled the anti-vax movement. Facebook and YouTube have promised to remove advertising from sites that cross medically acceptable boundaries and to reduce their prominence in search results. For the sake of public health worldwide, they must be held to their word” (3/18).

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World Must Reaffirm Commitment To Global Health, Invest In Comprehensive Immunization Efforts

Devex: Opinion: We are at a critical moment to invest in immunization
Kate Dodson, vice president for global health at the United Nations Foundation

“To stop measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases in their tracks, we know that countries need to step up their vaccination efforts. While many countries are working to ramp up domestic spending on immunization and health, the international community continues to play an important role. … We need to have robust donor support to multilateral organizations working on immunizations globally in order to keep us on the path to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3: Health and well-being for all. … Meeting the replenishment needs of our most important platforms for collective action on immunization must remain a top priority for donor governments and other philanthropic partners if we are going to see the tide turn against vaccine-preventable diseases and other threats to the world’s health and well-being. … If we succeed, 1.5 million people could be saved each year through better immunization coverage. … To maintain progress on immunization, build strong health systems, and reach the SDG targets, we will need new paradigms of partnership between countries, development partners, and the private sector. Donors, the private sector, and governments will need to pull together in the same direction in 2019 and make good on the pledge to leave no one behind…” (3/18).

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African Governments, Partners Should Work Together, Employ 'Concrete Measures' To Prevent Obesity, NCDs

Bloomberg: Obesity Is Now Africa’s Health Care Crisis, Too
Kasumi Iwase, managing director of AfricaScan Inc.

“When it comes to health issues in Africa, people think of chronic hunger, or infectious diseases such as malaria or HIV/AIDS. But Africa is simultaneously struggling with an increase in noncommunicable diseases, most of them related to obesity. … The best solution to these problems is the prevention and early diagnosis of NCDs. … Awareness of the importance of prevention is starting to grow. However, bold measures are needed by giving priority to tackling obesity as one of the main drivers as NCDs. Many of those living in Africa do not know their health status and, even when they do, they’re not sure how to respond. In small towns, for example, there is only a limited selection of healthy foods in the stores, and they are generally more expensive. Concrete measures such as taxes on sugary drinks, food labeling, and restricting advertising around unhealthy foods have made a difference in other countries. These measures should be the focus at the Tokyo International Conference of African Development later this year. It is this kind of [‘harambee,’ a term used in Kenya that means to work together to overcome difficulties,] that African governments and Western partners should be focused on” (3/19).

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Climate-Resilient Sweet Potato Can Play Essential Role In Food, Nutrition Security In Africa

The Telegraph: The humble sweet potato can help power Africa in the face of climate change
Nane Annan, board member of the Kofi Annan Foundation

“…[W]e must fully exploit the potential of Africa’s staple crops for greater climate resilience, in particular the sweet potato and its orange-fleshed varieties rich in vitamin A. … [I]t is the staple root that offers the quickest nutritional returns in the face of increasingly challenging weather conditions. Instead of waiting up to a year for yam or cassava to mature, sweet potato — with all its nutritional benefits — is ripe and ready in as little as three months. … This can have profound benefits for household food and nutrition security at a time when an estimated 100 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are at risk of blindness from vitamin A deficiency. … The challenges will become even more difficult as climate change intensifies, but some of the most effective solutions for addressing food and nutrition security may lie in simple staples. To this end, I hope decision-makers recognize the need for more investment dedicated to research into breeding the most nutritional and resilient varieties of sweet potato, as well as developing initiatives that get them into the hands of farmers and families. … Africa’s ability to feed herself in a warmer world could depend on it” (3/18).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Oxfam America Responds To Conflict, Humanitarian Situation In Yemen

Oxfam America: Years of conflict pushing people in Yemen to edge of famine
This post discusses the humanitarian situation in Yemen, as well as Oxfam America’s response, including efforts to provide clean water and sanitation and economic empowerment assistance. The post calls for an end to the conflict and urges U.S. lawmakers to pass the Yemen War Powers joint resolution (3/18).

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Indian Government Outlines Measures To Ensure Health Of Infants, Children

Narendra Modi: Taking Decisive Steps Towards Securing Health of Future Generations
This post outlines measures the Indian government has taken to ensure the health of infants and children, including efforts to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates, vaccinate children for Japanese Encephalitis, and address malnutrition through POSHAN Abhiyaan, which aims “to improve nutritional outcomes for children, adolescents, pregnant women, and lactating mothers by leveraging technology, targeted approach, and convergence” (3/16).

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Clearly Founder Discusses Private Sector's Role In Ensuring Eye Health For Employees

World Economic Forum: This cheap, 700-year old solution could change billions of lives
James Chen, founder of Clearly, discusses the importance of eye health and the private sector’s role in providing eye health care to employees, noting, “The implications of primary eye health care and glasses in helping older workers stay in work are huge — not to mention reducing poverty, helping younger family members to stay in school, improving health and well-being among elderly members of the community — the list goes on. This is startling and indisputable evidence for the power of glasses. More importantly, for business leaders, it is a sign that real, affordable, and existing solutions have been trialed and de-risked. … We need to find more ways to build strategies for the business sector to drive change. This is undoubtedly the best way forward, not only for poor vision but for issues of education, gender equality, pollution, and other pillars of the sustainable development goals” (3/18).

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From the U.S. Government

HHS Public Health Emergency Blog Series Addresses DRC Ebola Outbreak, Preparedness

HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response’s (ASPR) “ASPR Blog”: Combating and Containing the Ebola Outbreak
In the first post of a two-part series, Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS, discusses ASPR’s efforts to respond to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including the development of new medical countermeasures; experimental vaccine research, development, and testing; and the deployment of rapid diagnosis tests. Kadlec concludes, “Emerging disease outbreaks, particularly those with the potential to become epidemics, are but an international flight away and are significant global health threats. ASPR will continue to support the medical countermeasures needed to protect health and save lives in the face of Ebola and other 21st century health threats” (3/14).

HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response’s (ASPR) “ASPR Blog”: Preparing for a Potential Domestic Ebola Outbreak
In the second post of a two-part series, Kadlec discusses government efforts to prepare for the possibility of an Ebola case in the U.S., writing, “Ebola is just one of many potential national health security threats our nation faces. We are working with our partners across government and industry to accomplish a single, critical goal: saving lives in an emergency. By making smart investments, establishing strong partnerships, and creating comprehensive plans, we will be better prepared to fight Ebola or other highly infectious diseases and save lives” (3/15).

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U.S. Consul General Provides Remarks At World TB Day Event In Durban, KwaZulu Natal

USAID: KZN observe World TB Day with USAID
At a World TB Day event in Durban, Sherry Zalika Sykes, U.S. consul general, provided remarks showing support for South Africa’s efforts to control TB, noting, “The U.S. government will continue its support for the South African government’s health priorities, whether in TB or HIV to reach those in the highest burden areas of the country, with the greatest needs…” (3/15).

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