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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Trump Administration's Proposed Changes To Commitment Language Around Women's Rights Document Not Accepted During Negotiations At U.N. CSW Meeting

Rewire.News: Trump Administration Fails to Roll Back Support for Landmark Women’s Rights Agreement at United Nations
“…According to draft documents acquired by The Guardian, the U.S. delegation came into this week’s [U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)] meetings intending to ‘water down’ commitments to the health and well-being of women and girls as well as remove the word ‘gender’ from the commission’s documents. At issue is the 1995 Beijing declaration and platform for action, a landmark blueprint outlining priorities for the global empowerment of women and girls, including protection from gender-based violence and access to basic reproductive health care. While the agreement is non-binding, advocates often use it to pressure governments into loosening restrictions on women’s lives. Tarah Demant, director of Amnesty International’s gender, sexuality, and identity program told Rewire.News that U.S.-led efforts to undercut support for the Beijing declaration failed late Monday. ‘We are deeply troubled by the attempts of the U.S. delegation to the U.N. to change the language of commitment to the Beijing Platform for Action from “reaffirm” to “make note of,”‘ Demant said in a statement to Rewire.News…” (Burns, 3/19).

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Blue Ribbon Study Panel On Biodefense Praises Passage Of Legislation Calling For Cross-Cutting Analysis On Federal Biodefense Spending

Homeland Preparedness News: Blue Ribbon Study Panel praises congressional action to unify biodefense budget
“Members of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense praised the passage of legislation that incorporates its recommendation to direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to conduct a detailed analysis of the Trump administration’s budget for biodefense as part of the annual budget process. … Formed in 2014 to assess the state of U.S. biodefense efforts and to issue recommendations for improvement, the panel said in a written statement that such an analysis would help to determine capability and programmatic limitations in the nation’s biodefense strategy. … In September 2018, the White House released the National Biodefense Strategy, a top recommendation from the panel’s Blueprint for Biodefense, released in 2015…” (Rozens, 3/18).

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U.S. Government Funds Project To Develop Marburg Virus Vaccine; Disease Seen As Biodefense Threat

The Telegraph: Bioterror fears over Marburg virus, Ebola’s deadlier ‘cousin,’ as U.S. begins $10m vaccine project
“America has begun a $10m project making a vaccine to a deadly cousin of the Ebola virus considered a potential bioterrorism weapon. Finding a way to stop Marburg virus is ‘an urgent public health and biodefense need,’ the U.S. government said. … ‘In addition to the threat of naturally occurring infection, the Marburg virus, like Ebola, is deemed a potential bioterrorism threat by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,’ a statement said…” (Farmer, 3/19).

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Additional Ebola Cases Recorded In DRC; U.S. Investments Critical To Stop Outbreak, Prevent Spread, Experts Testify During Senate Subcommittee Hearing

CIDRAP News: Eight more sickened in DRC’s Ebola outbreak
“An uptick in the rate of newly confirmed Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s outbreak continued [Tuesday], with the country’s health ministry reporting eight illnesses in four locations. In other outbreak developments, the World Health Organization (WHO) African regional office in a weekly report [Tuesday] noted two more infections in health workers, and though Katwa is still the hot spot, seven health zones that have reported recent cases are points of concern…” (Schnirring, 3/19).

Homeland Preparedness News: Senate hearing highlights value of Ebola investments White House proposal would cut
“The ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo was the topic of a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee…, highlighting successes and failures in the fight against it. … Experts testified that U.S. investments in biomedical research and global health security have led to a vaccine administered to more than 87,000 people. It has also contributed to increased surveillance and preparedness efforts in neighboring nations, greatly reducing the risk of a pandemic — all things at risk if a White House budget proposal for 2020 passes…” (Galford, 3/19).

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VOA's Africa 54 Speaks With MSH Expert About Africa Health Agenda International Conference 2019, President Trump's FY 2020 Budget Request

VOA News: Africa 54: Africa/Achieving Health For All
VOA’s Africa 54 host Vincent Makori speaks with Faustine Wabwire, senior policy and advocacy manager at Management Sciences for Health, about issues discussed at the recent Africa Health Agenda International Conference 2019, which “sought to address barriers in access, quality, financing, and accountability by all sectors to ensure that every country in Africa can achieve health for all by 2030.” Wabwire also discusses global health and foreign assistance spending proposed in President Trump’s FY 2020 budget request. The segment begins at minute 12:57 (3/15).

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Devex Examines Growing Role Of Development Finance Institutions

Devex: Development finance institutions grapple with their growing role
“…DFIs have gained prominence as the role of the private sector has been accepted and because their work can be put in direct service of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. As the paradigm shifted from a focus on social service support and grant-based official development assistance to one more driven by private sector development, countries have turned to development finance institutions to provide solutions to help create jobs, spur economic development, and reduce poverty. As a result, the number of institutions has proliferated. … As DFI budgets grow and they play a more prominent role in development, they are also facing more scrutiny…” (Saldinger, 3/19).

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Germany Launches Global AMR R&D Hub Conceived During G20 Presidency

Devex: A global hub for antimicrobial resistance is taking shape
“Conceived during Germany’s 2017 Group of 20 presidency, a new hub for efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance is now taking shape in the country’s capital, Berlin. … In creating the Global AMR Research and Development Hub, Germany has sought to fill [knowledge gaps that exist around what research is being done to understand, mitigate, or combat AMR]. … The secretariat is focusing first on creating a dashboard to document research and development efforts already underway, while it works to set future priorities…” (Green, 3/20).

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TB Incidence, Mortality Declining Throughout Europe But More Effort Needed To Reach 2030 Goals, WHO/ECDC Report Says

CIDRAP News: Report highlights success, challenges in fight to end TB
“Analysts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported [Tuesday] that overall tuberculosis (TB) incidence and mortality continue to decline throughout Europe, but trends among countries vary widely, and multidrug-resistant (MDR)-TB remains a major concern. … They add that European health officials need to intensify their efforts if the region is to reach one of the milestones of the agency’s End TB strategy — an 80% reduction in the TB incidence rate by 2030 compared with 2015…” (Dall, 3/19).

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Southern Africa Humanitarian Emergency Growing In Aftermath Of Cyclone Idai, Aid Workers Say

New York Times: Cyclone Idai May Be ‘One of the Worst’ Disasters in the Southern Hemisphere
“Cyclone Idai, the storm that battered cities, submerged homes, and killed at least 200 people in southeastern Africa, may prove to be one of the worst weather-related disasters ever in the Southern Hemisphere, a United Nations official said on Tuesday. Officials with global aid groups and in Mozambique, where the storm hit hardest, are only beginning to reckon with its destruction. Potentially 1.7 million people were in the direct path of the cyclone, the United Nations estimated on Tuesday, and rain is forecast to continue in parts of the region for several days…” (Yuhas, 3/19).

U.N. News: Cyclone Idai: emergency getting ‘bigger by the hour,’ warns U.N. food agency
“The full scale of the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai in south-east Africa is becoming clearer, the U.N. said on Tuesday, warning that the emergency ‘is getting bigger by the hour.’ … ‘We are talking about a massive disaster right now where hundreds of thousands — in the millions of people — (are) potentially affected,’ said Jens Laerke from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). ‘We need all the logistical support that we can possibly get’…” (3/19).

Wall Street Journal: Cyclone Shows Climate Change’s Deadly Impact on Poor, Urbanizing Nations
“The tropical cyclone that tore through Mozambique and other Southern African nations has spotlighted how the combination of rapid urbanization and climate change is turning deadly in some of the world’s poorest places. … The storm and the destruction it has left in its path have renewed questions about how poor countries with long coastlines are adapting to climate change — and whether the rest of the world is helping enough…” (Bariyo/Steinhauser, 3/19).

Washington Post: ‘Everything is destroyed’: Mozambique fears massive human toll from Cyclone Idai
“…Heavy rains are expected to continue through the week. The United Nations estimated that more than 2.5 million people need immediate assistance. And with the crops and homes of thousands of families destroyed, a prolonged humanitarian crisis appeared inevitable…” (Bearak, 3/19).

Additional coverage of the storm’s aftermath is available from Al Jazeera, New York Times, Reuters (2), and VOA News.

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WHO Panel Recommends Creating International Registry Of Studies On Human Genome Editing

Associated Press: U.N.: Gene editing for human reproduction is ‘irresponsible’
“A panel convened by the World Health Organization said it would be ‘irresponsible’ for scientists to use gene editing for reproductive purposes, but stopped short of calling for a ban. The experts also called for the U.N. health agency to create a database of scientists working on gene editing. The recommendation was announced Tuesday after a two-day meeting in Geneva to examine the scientific, ethical, social, and legal challenges of such research…” (Keaten/Cheng, 3/19).

STAT: World Health Organization advisers call for registry of studies on human genome editing
“A World Health Organization advisory committee on editing human DNA will ask the United Nations agency to establish a global registry of all such research, recommend that editors of scientific journals not publish any unregistered studies, and ask science funders to require that their grantees register their studies, committee co-chair Dr. Margaret Hamburg told reporters on Tuesday. The registry would include studies that edit the DNA of eggs, sperm, and early embryos, called germline editing, and those that edit adult cells for the purpose of curing disease, which is much less controversial and is the focus of all genome-editing companies…” (Begley, 3/19).

Additional coverage of the panel’s recommendations is available from Axios, Nature, New York Times, Reuters, and Science.

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More News In Global Health

The Guardian: Key to saving lives of newborns lies in half a teaspoon of blood, study claims (McVeigh, 3/20).

Inter Press Service: Climate Change: a Threat to Agriculture & U.N.’s Goal to Eradicate Hunger (Deen, 3/19).

Inter Press Service: Climate Change Also Affects Mental Health in Mexico (Godoy, 3/19).

The Telegraph: British-funded dengue forecasting system in Vietnam aims to curb mosquito-borne virus (Smith, 3/19).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: With photos, Kenyans say #WeCannotIgnore one million hungry people (Bhalla, 3/19).

U.N. News: Safe drinking water, sanitation, are ‘basic human rights’: new U.N. Water Development report (3/19).

VOA News: U.N. Peacekeepers Provide Free Clinic in Remote Village in Troubled Mali (3/18).

Washington Post: Sterilization and isolation: Report details ‘abusive’ process for transgender legal recognition in Japan (Tamkin, 3/19).

Xinhua News: Experts call for adoption of open data to solve nutrition problems in Kenya (3/19).

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Editorials and Opinions

Advocates Should Urge Governments To Commit To Advancing Women's Reproductive Rights At U.N.'s CSW

Rewire.News: We Can’t Let the Trump Administration Dismantle Women’s Rights Around the World
Anu Kumar, president and CEO of Ipas

“…Access to safe and legal abortion is as relevant to gender equality as women’s equal access to education, employment, adequate food, and housing — it puts women’s and girls’ lives, health, and human rights at the core of human development. [The U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)] should be a space for advancing women’s rights; not a platform for their destruction. The Trump administration’s attempt to dismantle the global commitment to advancing women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights is stunningly out of step with international agreements and treaties that have consistently called for the full realization of sexual and reproductive rights, including access to safe, legal abortion. … As language negotiations step up next week inside the U.N., advocates for sexual and reproductive rights must continue to lobby their governments to oppose pressure by the U.S. government to eradicate progress on women’s rights. … We cannot allow the Trump administration to dismantle a human rights framework that puts women’s health and well-being at its center…” (3/19).

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WHO's Planned Reforms Could Address Organization's Shortcomings If Successful

World Politics Review: Do Proposed Reforms of the World Health Organization Go Far Enough?
Jeremy Youde, associate professor in the Department of International Relations at the Australian National University

“…Earlier this month, [WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus] unveiled reforms that … are aimed at achieving the WHO’s so-called ‘triple billion’ targets … The actual details of how and when most of these changes will go into effect have yet to be announced, but these reforms have the potential to address a number of the WHO’s shortcomings … First, by building teams that incorporate staffers at all different levels and encouraging movement among previously siloed offices, WHO staff could become more attuned to local issues. … Second, these reforms could increase the WHO’s technical capacities and capabilities to respond to an increasing array of issues. … Third, these reforms help focus the mission of the WHO, which simply does not have the capacity to do everything and has frequently found itself responding to situations rather than setting its own agenda. … Yet at the same time, it is important to view these reforms with a degree of skepticism. First, they fail to address the most glaring weakness in the WHO’s structure: the independence and autonomy of its six regional offices … Second, … these reforms do not address how the organization should interact with [other] major global health players … Finally, … the fact remains that the WHO fundamentally lacks resources … If they succeed, Tedros’ proposed reforms could be his signature accomplishment. If they fail, though, they could further damage the WHO’s standing within the global community” (3/19).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CGD Experts Examine Potential Implications Of FY 2020 Budget Request For PEPFAR, Global Fund

Center for Global Development: With Budget Cuts Looming Again, Can PEPFAR Keep the Gas on its Acceleration Strategy?
Sarah Rose, policy fellow at CGD, and Janeen Madan Keller, senior policy analyst and assistant director of global health at CGD, discuss the President’s FY 2020 budget request, including proposed cuts to PEPFAR, examining potential implications for the initiative’s 2017-2020 strategy, as well as to the Global Fund, which will have its replenishment later this year (3/19).

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WHO Highlights Ebola Response Efforts In DRC

World Health Organization: Doubling down on Ebola
This post discusses the WHO’s Ebola response efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including the deployment of frontline health workers, the provision of patient care in Ebola treatment centers, vaccination and educational efforts, treatment with new investigational Ebola drugs, and screenings at national and international airports (3/19).

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Chicago Council Blog Series Discusses Links Between Clean Water, Nutrition, Gender Equality

Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food for Thought”: Uncharted Waters: From Chicago to Uganda, Clean Water is Key to Good Nutrition
As part of the Chicago Council’s ‘Uncharted Waters’ blog series, Roger Thurow, senior fellow for Global Food and Agriculture at the Chicago Council, discusses the link between access to clean water and nutrition outcomes (3/19).

Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food for Thought”: Guest Commentary — Putting Nutrition at the Center of Collective Action
As part of the Chicago Council’s ‘Uncharted Waters’ blog series, Stineke Oenema, UNSCN coordinator, and Ivan Kent, deputy director at the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, discuss the role nutrition plays in human development and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular, “the nexus between water, sanitation, and nutrition” (3/18).

Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food for Thought”: Guest Commentary — Gender Equality & Clean Water Access: A Two-Way Street
As part of the Chicago Council’s ‘Uncharted Waters’ blog series, Razaq Fatai, research assistant for Global Policy at the ONE Campaign, discusses the link between gender equality and access to clean water, writing, “In order to address the challenges women and girls face in getting water today and improve access to clean drinking water for everyone, policymakers must implement policies and programs delivering on the human right to clean water and sanitation, and do so in a gender-responsive way…” (3/18).

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