KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Nations, Non-Profit Groups, Individuals Pledge $190M To 'She Decides' Initiative

CNN: Donors pledge millions to fill void left by Trump’s ‘global gag rule’
“Dozens of governments and private philanthropists have pledged nearly $200 million for family planning services, after U.S. President Donald Trump banned funding for [foreign] groups linked to abortion…” (Mackintosh, 3/2).

Deutsche Welle: After Trump slashes family planning funds, world convenes to help ensure ‘She Decides’
“…Five weeks after it was launched by Dutch Foreign Trade Minister Liliane Ploumen, the initiative has grown to almost 50 countries plus numerous organizations and foundations. With pledges from governments and institutions, plus $50 million from an American donor who wants to remain anonymous, the one-day drive raised a total of 181 million euros ($190.34 million)…” (Schultz, 3/2).

Devex: Anti-global gag rule fund reaches $190M
“…Countries including Sweden, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Australia, Norway, and Luxembourg pledged more than $110 million between them to the ‘She Decides’ fund for family planning, some of which had been previously announced. An additional $20 million was committed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; as well as $50 million from an anonymous private donor; and a personal donation of $10 million from Sir Christopher Hohn, billionaire founder of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation…” (Abrahams, 3/2).

The Guardian: U.K. fails to contribute as donors unite to bridge U.S. ‘global gag’ funding shortfall
“The British government failed to join other donors in pledging millions of dollars to an international fund aimed at filling the gap left by Donald Trump’s reimposition of the ‘global gag rule’ … As the contributions poured in, Rory Stewart, minister for international development, restated the U.K.’s existing spending on family planning in developing countries. ‘Having historically put £90m in 2010 into this issue I can confirm that the U.K. government now has a budget of £200m for family planning,’ he told delegates…” (Rankin/Elgot, 3/2).

NPR: $190 Million Raised To Fill Aid Gap Left By Trump’s Abortion Rule
“…[M]ore than a dozen nations and private funders pledged a combined total of $190 million for international family planning charities that stand to lose their U.S. support as a result of President Trump’s Jan. 23 executive action to block U.S. foreign aid funding of [foreign] groups linked to abortion. The policy disqualifies organizations that perform abortions or advocate for the procedure’s legalization, as well as those that provide patients with basic information about abortion or medical referrals to obtain the procedure…” (Aizenman, 3/2).

VOA News: Brussels Meeting Addresses U.S. Ban on Global Health Funding
“…Jen Kates is the vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation … She said the proposed ban on U.S. funding is broad and would affect much more than family planning services. She said funding for other services that an NGO provides also is in jeopardy. ‘It couldn’t receive U.S. HIV support, for example, or maternal and child health support, if it did [abortion-related] services with non-U.S. money,’ she said. ‘So that just opens up the reach of this policy to a much wider range of organizations, which I think has led to some greater concern and urgency and more reaction from a wide range of groups about the implications’…” (Berman, 3/3).

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Development, Advocacy Organizations Ramp Up Efforts To Counter Trump Administration's Proposed Cuts To U.S. Foreign Aid

Devex: Lobbying efforts ramp up in the wake of proposed cuts to U.S. aid
“Months ago, the ONE Campaign set Feb. 28 as the day for the ONE Power Summit, a day of advocacy in Washington, D.C. The group couldn’t have known at the time that just one day before its event, reports would surface that President Donald Trump was to propose a massive 37 percent reduction in foreign aid spending. … Groups such as the ONE Campaign, development organizations, and lobbyists who support foreign aid are gearing up for a fight, and while they are in agreement that the proposed cuts are alarming and dangerous, they are also quick to say that the budget, in its current form, is unlikely to succeed…” (Saldinger, 3/3).

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Threat Of Famine Spreads In Africa, Middle East As President Trump Proposes Cuts To Foreign Assistance

Washington Post: Trump’s plan to slash foreign aid comes as famine threat is surging
“President Trump has proposed large cuts to foreign aid at a time of acute need across Africa and the Middle East, with four countries approaching famine and 20 million people nearing starvation, according to the United Nations. … So far, U.S. funding for the hunger crises has come out of a budget approved last year under President Barack Obama. But the ­famines or near-famines in parts of ­Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen underscore the reliance on continued U.S. assistance to save some of the world’s most desperate people…” (Sieff, 3/1).

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Trump Administration's Travel Ban Discouraging Some Scientists From Coming To U.S., Traveling Abroad, Reshaping Research Landscape

Nature: How the fallout from Trump’s travel ban is reshaping science
“…Many foreign-born scientists say they are reconsidering plans to work or study in the United States, even though federal courts have indefinitely blocked U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban. The policy, which Trump signed on 27 January, sought to deny entry to citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days — including those with valid U.S. visas. Some researchers worry that the Trump administration will find a way to reinstate the policy, and perhaps even expand its reach. … The lingering uncertainty over U.S. immigration rules is prompting some scientists to curtail crucial research trips and may dissuade other researchers, students, and entrepreneurs from considering the U.S. as a destination…” (Reardon, 3/2).

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Financial Times Launches Weekly Global Health Newsletter, Features Interview With Former CDC Director Tom Frieden In First Installment

Financial Times: FT Health: Welcome to our new newsletter
“Welcome to FT Health, our weekly newsletter for decision makers around the world. It covers global health, with insights into health care, medicine, science, public health, and industry. Every Friday, we will provide a short original commentary or interview, and a selection of the most important stories from the FT and other news and specialist sites across the web. This week we talk to Tom Frieden, the former head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)…” (Jack, 2/27).

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Swedish Institute For Global Health Transformation Established To Provide Science-Based Recommendations For Policymakers, Public

The Lancet: Swedish global health institute established with Gates grant
“A new institute for global health research based at the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm has received a start-up grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Swedish Institute for Global Health Transformation (SIGHT) aims to have a catalytic role in global health research, galvanizing Swedish academics and producing science-based recommendations for policymakers and the public. SIGHT has received an initial US$1.2 million grant from the Gates Foundation, and aims to approach more donors as the institute takes form…” (Usher, 3/4).

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Birth Defects 20 Times More Likely Among Infants Born To Women Infected With Zika During Pregnancy, CDC Report Shows

The Guardian: Nervous system birth defects 20 times likelier for Zika-hit mothers, study finds
“Pregnant women infected with Zika are 20 times more likely to give birth to children with central nervous system birth defects such as abnormally small heads, a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found…” (Glenza, 3/2).

New York Times: Birth Defects Rise Twentyfold in Mothers With Zika, CDC Says
“…A new study, published in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, looked at several hundred pregnant women entered into the CDC’s Zika Pregnancy Registry after lab tests indicated they probably had the virus. The study compared their birth outcomes to those found in historic registries of birth defects kept in Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Georgia. … Women in Puerto Rico, which had a major outbreak of the virus, are in a separate CDC registry” (McNeil, 3/2).

Washington Post: Rate of birth defects in Zika pregnancies 20 times higher than in pre-Zika years, CDC says
“…The findings ‘give you an idea of how large the risk may be,’ said Janet Cragan, a medical officer at CDC’s birth defects branch who led the research. … Margaret Honein, chief of the birth defects branch at the CDC and an author of the report, said it’s too early to give a precise estimate for the additional risk of birth defects from a Zika infection. ‘I don’t have that level of precision, but there is strong evidence of a major increase in risk,’ Honein said. She said the findings demonstrate the importance of having monitoring systems that collect data on birth defects…” (Sun, 3/2).

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Editorials and Opinions

Global Health Security Strengthens Public Health, Serves As Foreign Policy Tool

The Lancet: Offline: Global health security — smart strategy or naive tactics?
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet

“…Is global health intended to improve population health or is it meant to be a diplomatic tool for countries to exert their ‘soft power?’ … The facts show that investments in global health security attract funding because they offer a means of protecting populations in donor countries against the spread of infectious diseases. Global health security is a tool of foreign policy and we should be glad of that. Global health security strengthens public health. It mobilizes financial and technical resources. And it saves lives in all countries by preventing epidemic disease. The unfortunate reality is that humanitarian arguments alone often fail to win the support of politicians. Security arguments change the terms of the political debate. If global health advocates want to deliver on their admirable aspirations, they need to ‘get real'” (3/4).

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American-Led Anti-Vaccine Movement Could Reduce Vaccine Coverage Globally, Reverse Disease Elimination, Eradication Efforts

Scientific American: Will an American-Led Anti-Vaccine Movement Subvert Global Health?
Peter J. Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and endowed chair in tropical pediatrics at Texas Children’s Hospital

“…I’m worried that America’s anti-vaccine movement has sufficient strength and momentum to affect vaccine coverage globally. … Things might only get worse pending the imminent expansion and export of an American-led anti-vaccine movement. We need to recognize that the current activities in Texas and Washington, D.C., could ignite reversals of global disease elimination and eradication efforts that are now more than 50 years in the making. Given these high stakes, I believe the leaders in the U.S. government must become more vocal and proactive, while addressing and elevating discussions about vaccine hesitancy and anti-vaccine movements in international forums. Because there are particular consequences of reduced vaccine coverage in some of the largest nations comprising the group of 20 (G20), future G20 summits might be an appropriate venue for coordinated action, in addition to the upcoming World Health Assembly in May. An American anti-vaccine movement is building and we need to take steps now to snuff it out” (3/3).

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Global Health Community Must Engage Private Sector To Create Reproductive Health-Related Corporate Social Responsibility Standards

Global Health NOW: Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile: Engaging Corporations on Reproductive Health
David Wofford, vice president of Meridian Group International, Inc. and senior adviser on workplace policies at the Evidence Project

“…The global health community needs to ask corporations to do more on reproductive health and rights policy and practice. … [T]he operations and policies of corporations and their supply chains touch millions of poor workers in low- and middle-income countries and directly affect worker access to general and reproductive health services. One way to shape the policies and practices of corporations is through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or sustainability standards. … We argue that global health advocates should engage in developing policies in this system … We recommend … that the global health community advocate for women’s health in the CSR policy sphere. We call on global health to make corporate standards and CSR policy core issues in the agendas of global forums to advance family planning, women’s empowerment, and the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)]; to engage global initiatives, like the Business and Human Rights Guiding Principles; and to build on existing relationships and common ground with environmental and labor groups…” (3/1).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CGD Blog Post Discusses Potential Impact Of President Trump's Proposed Budget On U.S. Foreign Aid Reform

Center for Global Development’s “U.S. Development Policy”: The Damage Already Done to the Foreign Assistance Budget
Scott Morris, senior fellow and director of the U.S. Development Policy Initiative at CGD, discusses President Donald Trump’s proposed budget and its potential impact on U.S. foreign aid reform, writing, “We will need those congressional champions of effective foreign aid and international engagement in the months ahead, both to walk back the ex ante budget slashing and to help guide the discussion back to sound reforms. But make no mistake, by putting forward the notion of an aid budget that is a third or more smaller, the president has already moved the baseline lower for any likely budget outcome this year and may very well have poisoned the well for honest reform efforts going forward” (3/2).

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IAS Releases 2017 Annual Letter

International AIDS Society: Annual Letter 2017: Strong Science, Bold Activism
In this annual letter, IAS discusses its work in 2017, including its commitment to scale up HIV prevention strategies, strengthen resources and funding, and reduce the cost of medicines and treatment. IAS Executive Director Owen Ryan writes, “If 2016 served as a wake-up call from complacency and premature congratulations, 2017 must be the year when the AIDS community confronts our challenges and renews our determination to grasp the historic opportunities that scientific research and community leadership have given us…” (March 2017).

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