KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

CDC Director To Travel To DRC, Where Violence Continues To Hinder Ebola Outbreak Response

STAT: CDC director planning to travel to DRC as country battles Ebola outbreak
“Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is expected to travel [this] week to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a rare trip to the country by a U.S. official as it battles what is now the second largest Ebola outbreak on record. Redfield will make the trip with the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, according to a WHO statement. The CDC would not confirm Redfield’s travel plans. … A State Department bar on U.S. government employees working in the outbreak zone is still in effect…” (Branswell, 3/1).

Vox: Arsonists attacked 2 facilities treating Ebola patients in Congo. That’s a major setback.
“The humanitarian agency Doctors Without Borders was forced to suspend operations in two areas where it’s been responding to the Democratic Republic of Congo Ebola outbreak, following arson attacks on its health care facilities this week. … The attacks happened on MSF’s treatment centers in the most active hot spots in the outbreak, neighboring cities called Katwa and Butembo…” (Belluz, 3/1).

Washington Post: ‘We don’t know their motivation’: Ebola treatment suspended after attacks on clinics in Congo
“…As in other Ebola responses, health workers in Congo are working to try to earn the trust of local communities where the virus is spreading. Parts of Congo’s North Kivu province are volatile, and violent armed groups have slowed the Ebola response there. And after years of conflict, some communities in the area are fearful and suspicious of outside intervention…” (O’Grady, 3/1).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak and response is available from Al Jazeera, CIDRAP News, Deutsche Welle, NPR, Reuters, STAT, The Telegraph, U.N. News, and VOA News.

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U.S. Government Allows Controversial Research On Flu Viruses To Resume

New York Times: Studies of Deadly Flu Virus, Once Banned, Are Set to Resume
“Research that could make flu viruses more dangerous, and that the government suspended in 2014 because of safety concerns, has been approved to begin again, federal officials have confirmed. The government did not publicly announce its decisions in recent months to allow two labs to resume their projects. The new go-ahead was first reported in the journal Science. The lack of information about the decision and how it was made have provoked outrage from some scientists, who oppose the research because they say it could create mutant viruses that might cause deadly pandemics if they were unleashed by lab accidents or terrorism…” (Grady, 3/1).

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Populist Politics Hindering Women's Rights Globally, Group Of Women Leaders Says In Open Letter

Quartz: A group of world leaders says populist politics are eroding women’s rights
“…[T]he rise of populism around the world, along with its conservative and xenophobic attitudes, is chipping away at women’s rights, according to a group of female global leaders. More than 30 current and former government and international officials published an open letter online on Thursday (Feb. 28) to launch the Group of Women Leaders for Change and Inclusion, ahead of Women’s History Month, celebrated in the U.S. in March…” (Merelli, 3/1).

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U.K. Government Launches Fund, Taskforce To Help End 'Period Poverty' Worldwide

The Telegraph: Government launches £2m fund to tackle period poverty around the world
“U.K. International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt has unveiled a £2 million fund to tackle ‘period poverty’ around the world. According to the Department for International Development (DFID), around half of women and girls in developing countries cannot afford sanitary products and are forced to use rags, grass, and paper to manage their periods…” (Gulland, 3/4).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: U.K. launches global fund to help end ‘period poverty’ by 2050
“…The government pledged to give 2 million pounds ($2.64 million) to organizations working to end period poverty globally, and has also earmarked 250,000 pounds to create a taskforce of government departments, charities, and private enterprises to tackle the issue. ‘Empowerment starts when you are young. Girls should be able to focus on their education and their future without being worried about or embarrassed by their periods,’ said Penny Mordaunt, minister for women and equalities, in a statement…” (Taylor, 3/3).

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Spike In Number Of Measles Cases Worldwide Represents 'Growing Threat To Children,' UNICEF Report Says

The Hill: U.N. report says vaccine hesitancy helped spark worldwide spike in measles cases last year
“Vaccine hesitancy contributed to a spike in measles cases across the globe between 2017 and 2018, UNICEF said in a report released Friday. The United Nations children’s agency said that hesitancy toward vaccinations in addition to ‘poor health infrastructure, civil strife, low community awareness,’ and complacency have led to measles outbreaks in both developed and developing countries across the world recently. The agency said the ‘alarming’ surge in such cases presents a ‘growing threat to children’…” (Folley, 3/1).

USA TODAY: UNICEF on alarming global surge in measles: ‘The real infection is misinformation’
“…The report says 98 percent of countries reported an uptick in measles cases in 2018. Ukraine, the Philippines, and Brazil had the largest increases. ‘This is a wake up call. We have a safe, effective, and inexpensive vaccine against a highly contagious disease — a vaccine that has saved almost a million lives every year over the last two decades,’ the release quotes Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s executive director…” (Shannon, 3/1).

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Drought In Pakistan Triggers 'Alarmingly High' Rates of Malnutrition, Disease, IFRC Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Disease, hunger “alarmingly high” in drought-hit Pakistan: Red Cross
“One of the worst droughts in Pakistan’s history has triggered ‘alarmingly high’ levels of malnutrition and disease in the hardest hit areas where people have been forced to drink salty or contaminated water, the Red Cross said on Friday. Women, especially those pregnant or breastfeeding, and children are particularly vulnerable to diarrhea, vomiting, and fever brought on by a lack of safe drinking water in the worst affected areas of the southern Sindh and Balochistan provinces…” (Silva, 3/1).

VOA News: IFRC Sounds Alarm on Malnutrition, Disease in Pakistan’s Drought Region
“…An estimated five million people have been affected according to IFRC, which says the drought was caused by ‘unseasonably high temperatures and below average monsoonal rainfall’…” (3/1).

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WHO Urges People To Check Their Hearing On World Day

U.N. News: ‘Once lost, hearing doesn’t come back’: World Health Organization warns on World Hearing Day
“Many people live with unidentified hearing loss, often failing to realize that they are missing out on certain sounds and words. To address this problem, the World Health Organization (WHO) is urging people on this year’s World Hearing Day, held on March 3, to check their hearing. Worldwide, some 466 million people have disabling hearing loss, and the WHO estimates that by 2050 that figure will almost double, affecting one in 10 people. The cost of unaddressed hearing loss is believed to be around US$ 750 billion…” (3/3).

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More News In Global Health

BBC News: Why Chinese mothers turned away from C-sections (Owen/Razak, 3/2).

BBC News: Rohingya crisis: Bangladesh will no longer take in Myanmar refugees (3/1).

BBC News: Kifafa: The mystery of East Africa’s ‘nodding disease’ (Gorvett, 2/28).

Bloomberg: Smaller Countries Are Becoming the Healthiest (Blenford, 3/3).

Bloomberg: The Bleak and Scary World Inside a Venezuelan Women’s Hospital (Laya, 3/2).

Christian Science Monitor: As Kenyan Maasai abandon girls’ ritual cutting, elders lead the way (Zhu, 3/1).

Devex: Q&A: The African Union Development Agency takes shape (Roby, 3/4).

Forbes: No One Knows The True Cost Of Medicines, And Blaming Other Countries Won’t Help (Ro, 3/3).

The Guardian: Breast-ironing: victims urge stronger action to root out dangerous custom (Lazareva, 3/4).

Health Policy Watch: Médecins Sans Frontières On Drug Prices — You Can’t Negotiate Blindfolded (Fletcher, 2/27).

Inter Press Service: A Leprosy-free Philippines by 2020? (Paul, 3/3).

STAT: Sanofi faces indictment in the Philippines over deaths related to its dengue vaccine (Silverman, 3/1).

U.N. News: Children are still dying in Yemen war, despite partial ceasefire, says UNICEF chief (3/2).

U.N. News: Laws must protect, ‘not reject’ says UNAIDS chief on Zero Discrimination Day (3/1).

VOA News: U.N.: Nearly 2 in 3 Syrians in Need of Humanitarian Aid (Schlein, 3/2).

Wired: Colonialists are coming for blood — literally (McKenna, 3/3).

Xinhua News: China disease emergency management capability leads the world: former WHO chief (3/3).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Global HIV/AIDS Policy Provides Inspiration For Domestic Efforts To End Epidemic

The Hill: To end AIDS, we must address the forces driving it
Raniyah Copeland, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, and Chris Beyrer, Desmond M. Tutu professor of public health and human rights at Johns Hopkins University

“…During his State of the Union earlier this month, President Trump announced a bold new plan to end HIV in the U.S. over the next decade. HHS has since specified targets of a 75 percent reduction in new HIV infections in five years and at least a 90 percent reduction in ten years. This goal is affordable and feasible but will only succeed with meaningful engagement of people living with HIV and a focus on the underlying factors driving the epidemic. … To accelerate progress at home, we can draw inspiration from global policy. Established under President George W. Bush and reauthorized for the third time this past December, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) remains one of our country’s greatest bipartisan success stories. … The International AIDS Conference in 2020, to be held in Oakland and San Francisco offers a platform for U.S. officials to demonstrate global leadership. … Our call to action for lawmakers is to authorize funding for the new U.S. HIV strategy — and to remove harmful policies that will undermine progress. … That the new Congress is younger and more reflective of the communities hardest hit by HIV than ever before gives us hope that this is possible” (3/3).

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Opinion Piece Addresses Research On Mexico City Policy, Abortion

The Conversation: Abortions rise worldwide when U.S. cuts funding to women’s health clinics, study finds
Yana Rodgers, professor of labor studies at Rutgers University

“Fulfilling Republican efforts to ‘defund Planned Parenthood,’ the Trump administration announced on Feb. 22 it would end federal funding to health providers that perform abortions. This new ruling is the domestic version of the ‘global gag rule’ [otherwise known as the Mexico City policy] that Trump imposed in 2017. It cuts U.S. global health funding from organizations abroad that perform — or even talk about — abortions, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation. … Supporters of the global gag rule say defunding abortion providers will reduce abortions. However, researchers from Stanford University in 2011 found that this U.S. policy actually made women in sub-Saharan Africa twice as likely to have an abortion. My new study, published in November 2018, confirms those findings in Africa and shows that the global gag rule had an even greater effect in Latin America. … Since Trump reinstated the global gag rule in 2017, health workers in developing countries have reported drastic reductions in the availability of contraception, teen sex education, and family planning services…” (3/4).

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Editorial, Opinion Piece Discuss Politicization Of Aid In Venezuela

New York Times: Venezuela’s Hunger Games
Editorial Board

“The Venezuelan political opposition and its many foreign supporters, the United States first among them, gambled that getting crucial humanitarian aid into the country would undermine military support for Nicolás Maduro and finally pry him out of the presidential palace. Alas, the first round failed recently. Despite some reported defections, the army blocked the aid at border crossings, often with violent confrontations. Now what? … The best outcome would be a negotiated deal between [opposition leader Juan] Guaidó and Mr. Maduro, possibly mediated by the United Nations, leading to free, internationally monitored elections. But for Mr. Maduro and his cronies, that is tantamount to surrendering power. The embattled president has fought back by depicting Mr. Guaidó as a stooge of Washington … It must be clear that Mr. Guaidó should be installed as interim leader only to allow for new, fair elections. Any suggestion that Mr. Guaidó was acting on behalf of Washington would undermine that message. It may take more time, and it may require cutting a deal with Mr. Maduro that would grant him and his cronies safe passage to refuge elsewhere, but maintaining a vociferous front of the Venezuelan opposition and a broad array of countries of all ideological leanings remains, for now, the best available option” (3/3).

Washington Post: The most effective way to help Venezuelans: Stop politicizing aid
Jeremy Konyndyk, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and professor at Georgetown University

“…The well-being of millions of Venezuelans depends on credibly distancing the aid operation from either side’s immediate political aims. Instead of high-profile confrontations over aid deliveries, focus must shift toward the painstaking work of negotiating neutral humanitarian access. … There are several immediate priorities. First, the United States should explicitly commit to impartial aid and stop tying the relief effort to its political aims. … Second, to depoliticize aid deliveries, the United States and other donors should cede leadership of the relief effort to more neutral players such as the U.N., the Red Cross, and NGOs. … Finally, the U.N. should ambitiously scale up its relief efforts and push back on the Maduro regime’s denial of the crisis. … It is still possible that Maduro would refuse all of this. But putting a U.S. government (and military) face on the aid operation all but ensures his refusal to cooperate. A credible and neutral U.N.-brokered aid operation might not advance anyone’s political objectives, but it does stand the best chance of actually saving the lives of suffering Venezuelans” (3/1).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Brookings Institution Blog Posts Discuss Health Care Landscape, Financing In Africa

Brookings Institution’s “Future Development”: Is trade with India changing Africa’s health care landscape?
Siddharth Dixit, associate in research at the Duke Center for International Development (DCIC), and colleagues discuss the impact of India-Africa trade on the health care landscape in Africa, including HIV treatment and prevalence. The authors write, “India is still battling health care problems that many middle- and low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing. India and Africa can learn together how these problems can be tackled. The two subcontinents have similar problems, but matching sets of skills and resources. The improvement in health care is just an example of the many benefits that closer trade and investment relations can bring. We hope this is just the beginning of the story” (3/1).

Brookings Institution’s “Future Development”: Closing Africa’s health financing gap
Osondu Ogbouji, deputy director and head of research at the Center for Policy Impact in Global Health at Duke University’s Duke Global Health Institute, and colleagues offer four recommendations for closing Africa’s health financing gap: “1. Keep moving towards pooled financing of health care. … 2. Encourage donors to be more innovative and strategic. … 3. Adopt systems that foster innovation and continuous learning in financing and delivery. … 4. Get serious about addressing waste and leakages” (3/1).

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Tropical Health Matters Blog Post Discusses Funding For Global Malaria

Tropical Health Matters: Malaria: Global Funding, Not Just the Global Fund
Bill Brieger, professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, discusses the goals of the Global Fund’s sixth replenishment conference this year, overall global funding for malaria, and the need for increased domestic resources from both the public and private sectors for malaria efforts (3/1).

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ONE Blog Post Highlights Gavi's Work In DRC To Improve Vaccine Delivery

ONE Campaign: There’s a health care revolution in the DRC
Melanie Rhodes of the ONE Campaign discusses the challenges of vaccine delivery in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), highlighting efforts by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and other partners to address these challenges, including the creation of Central Africa’s largest vaccine storage hub (3/4).

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IntraHealth Blog Post Features Interview With Family Planning Youth Ambassador Working On Sexual, Reproductive Health Education In Niger

IntraHealth International’s “VITAL”: This Nigerien Med Student Has a Plan to Tackle Family Planning Taboo
Carol Bales, advocacy and policy communications manager at IntraHealth International, highlights an interview with Mariama Abdou Gado, a family planning youth ambassador who works with young religious leaders in Niger to integrate sexual and reproductive health education into schools (2/28).

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FT Health Features Interview With Naisola Likimani Of SheDecides

FT Health: High noon for the Pharma Seven
The latest issue of the Financial Times’ weekly global health newsletter features an interview with Naisola Likimani, new leader of the support unit for SheDecides, on the role of the movement. The newsletter also provides a round-up of global health-related news stories (Dodd/Jack, 3/1).

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